The Fulton County Agricultural Society has announced that Curtis Johnson of Fayette was inducted into the Ohio Fairs Hall of Fame Class of 2020 on Jan. 5 by The Ohio Fair Managers Association for his support to Ohio Fairs Industry and the community.
Johnson, a lifelong farmer, has been closely connected to agriculture through involvement in Fulton County with both 4-H and FFA. As a teenager, he and his friends would sleep in the cow barn and trailers during the fair. One particular morning during fair week in 1954, he recalls sleeping in a tent and being awakened by the sound of the turnpike construction.
So it seemed fitting that in 1981 he was asked to serve on the Fulton County Fair Board, which ultimately led to a 32-year tenure in various capacities, including Livestock Committee chairperson through 2012.
And although at the beginning Johnson didn’t have a clue what the position entailed, he was reassured, “You’ll learn.”
Johnson emphasized that the county fair cannot be accomplished by one person, but by a team of dedicated individuals. He said the fair has always been a family event, and recalled how his family took over duties at home so he could serve the fair board, and how his wife, Jeanne, served as the board’s secretary for 19 years.
Johnson said watching people come together to ensure what he regards as wholesome family fun at the event was a personal highlight.
But he also was passionate about using the fair to educate others about agriculture. Johnson said he retains the fond memory of Toledo Public Schools children visiting the fair for a lesson in rural agriculture and livestock. He said as they visited the pig and cow barns one child gushed that he had never seen real animals.
As part of his determination to improve the fair and educate and involve the community on agriculture, Johnson developed an agriculture heritage display for the 150th Fulton County Fair in 2007. It has since become an annual display of over 100 items chronicling the history of agriculture, from hand tools to modern day equipment.
“Anything I’ve done, I could not have done without the support of other people,” he said modestly. Although he no longer serves on the fair board, “I still go help, get barns ready, do whatever I can do. I’m thrilled to do it.”
During the winter, Johnson spends hours piecing together about 600 video clips and 1,200 still photo clips he and a neighbor took during fair week. He chronicles each day of the fair and adds music to create a memorable DVD of memories. According to Johnson, annual fair visitors have told him they notice activities on the video they weren’t aware are features of the fair.
As for being inducted into the Ohio Fairs Hall of Fame, Johnson said it’s simply a matter of doing what he has always loved.
He was inducted into the Fulton County Agricultural Hall of Fame 2006, and was Named Outstanding Fair Supporter by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2014.