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County Fair aims to be educational, fun with ‘Agricultural Pride Countywide’
Ramona Kesslelr
Ramona Kessler has served as Effingham County Fair secretary for 40 years. (Submitted photo)

Special to the Herald

SPRINGFIELD – Ramona Kessler is more important to the Effingham County Fair than the Ferris wheels and funnel cakes.
She has been associated with the venerable event since 1975.
“I worked in the concessions stand at first,” Kessler said.
It wasn’t long before Kessler, a former Effingham County Farm Bureau employee, ascended to a more important role. She has served as the Effingham County Fair Committee secretary for nearly four decades.
“The fair is kind of in my blood,” she said.
Kessler grew up in Hiawassee, which hosts the Georgia Mountain Fair each August.
“My daddy was in the Lions Club and my mother was in the Garden Club, and they were fair sponsors of the fair back then,” Kessler said. “I just grew up believing that the fair was an important part of the community.”
Kessler also believes in agriculture, which is pushed into the spotlight during the Effingham County Fair. The motto for the 79th edition, set Oct.12-21, is, “Agricultural pride countywide.”
“We do this to promote farming,” Kessler said “When I moved down here, I was married to a farmer.”
Kessler’s husband, Thomas, is still a tiller of the soil and serves the Effingham County Fair Committee as the chairman of the Individual Exhibits Committee. Individual exhibits allow farmers and gardeners to showcase examples of their agricultural products.
“We are going to keep that commitment to agriculture,” the secretary said. “That is our main goal. I don’t see that part ever changing.”
Prior to the formation of the Effingham County Fair Committee, the Effingham County Fair was a joint production of the Farm Bureau and American Legion.
“The Farm Bureau furnished half of the labor for the gate, concessions, and everything back then,” Kessler said. “We promoted agriculture because even back then people didn’t know where their food came from and today they definitely do not know.”
Kessler is proud that the fair is a safe, family-oriented event that has something of interest for everyone. Its rides are presented by Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment.
“We try to make it educational and fun,” she said. “We want to bring people together.”
Kessler’s responsibilities as the secretary of the Fair Committee are wide ranging and require a considerable investment of time.
“I send out notices for (monthly committee meetings), get all the tickets and things for the gate, get an ATM guy to come and pay up everybody who gets paid,” she said.
The fair features dozens of contests that feature small financial prizes.
“By (the final Saturday night or Sunday morning), I will get more than three hundred checks ready,” Kessler said.
Kessler explained that it takes about 50 volunteers to put on the fair each night.
“It’s quite an undertaking,” Kessler said. “It can be a strain to get enough people -- and they are all volunteers except the custodians. We could always use more people who are willing to work.”
Fair proceeds are invested in the upkeep of the fairgrounds and scholarships for select seniors from Effingham County and South Effingham high schools.
The fairgrounds are located at 105 S. Laurel St. The fair telephone number is 912-754-3031.