And Kevin Durst, treasurer of the fair board, is busy preparing for a week that he describes as fun, busy and challenging.
Durst has been part of the Mason County Fair since he was a child, and the 2009 fair will be his 27th year serving as fair board treasurer.
“I grew up around the fair. When I was a kid I was (at the fair) all day long. I had friends that had livestock and I mainly ran around and enjoyed the carnival and music,” Durst said. “Once I was out of college and came back here my in-laws at the time were involved with the fair. I started going to fair board meetings, and when the previous treasurer stepped down I was asked to run, was elected by the board and have been here ever since.”
Durst described being treasurer of the fair board as starting out as a hobby, but becoming almost like a job now as both the fair and workload has grown.
“The fair is like a small business. We’ve got the same type of stuff to sort through like finances, paying the bills and tax forms... A lot of people think that the fair happens over night — a lot of work goes into getting it ready; it is a year-long process,” he said. “(The treasurer position) has changed a lot. It is really a hobby, but more of a job now. When I first started I didn’t think I’d be doing it as long as I have,”
However, he said that he enjoys being treasurer and looks forward to fair week each year. In fact, Durst described working with other board members and volunteers as the most interesting part of being involved with the fair.
“There is a great bunch of people here to work with. I’ve always enjoyed working with the people here. A lot of work goes into getting the fair ready. There is a lot of camaraderie,” Durst said.
He added that the livestock sale, which is held the Friday of fair week, is his favorite part of the fair.
“The biggest thing during the fair and after the fair that takes up time is the livestock sale. It takes up much of the day — my attention on Friday turns to the sale,” he said. “It’s a real challenge getting everything done for the livestock sale. It all happens so fast.”
According to Durst, the sale takes up the majority of Friday and he must stay on top of everything that occurs, including making sure that both payments are received from businesses and that checks are ready for the children. Durst’s work also continues following the livestock sale’s conclusion.
“I have to make sure that the animals get to right place and people,” he said. It usually takes me a good week to 10 days to get everyone billed.”
Although, Durst described the livestock sale as his favorite part of the fair, he also said it was the most difficult part of the week.
“I am constantly running back and forth between the computer (in the show ring) to the computer in the fair office,” he said.
However, he attributed the challenging and financial aspect of the sale as the reason why he enjoys it. In fact, Durst said that being treasurer of the fair board is particularly interesting because of his financial background.
“I like the business side of the fair — it is interesting,” he said.
Aside from the livestock sale, the rest of the fair week is quite busy for Durst as well. According to Durst, he arrives at the fairgrounds at 7 a.m. each day of the fair to get the office organized as well as get tickets and cash boxes ready for all of the entrance gates. In addition, he must make sure that gates are opened and that ticket booths are ready. Throughout each day, Durst also checks with each gate and makes change for the cash box.
“We are constantly bringing money from the gates and getting it counted. This goes on until time to close. After (the fair) closes each night we balance the cash boxes out,” Durst said.
Other things that Durst does throughout the day at the fair includes organizing money for fair ribbons, paying judges, paying various bills and doing periodic maintenance checks around the fairgrounds. He also keeps track of all general admission tickets and season passes sold as well as the number of those who attend the fair each day. In addition, Durst is part of the fair’s entertainment committee so he helps make sure that the main stage is in good shape.
“Fair week is so busy. When it’s over you are surprised. You plan your whole year for it, do it in six days and it’s over,” Durst said. “Once the fair is over we all have to go back to real life because we all have jobs. It’s like a balancing act there.”
Durst added that after the fair he along with several fair board members attend the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals to support the Mason County Fair Queen, who competes in the pageant. In addition, planning for the next year’s fair begins.
Although Durst is very busy during fair week, he said that he tries to make time to enjoy the fair. He described walking around the fair and seeing various friends as being enjoyable.
Durst encouraged others to volunteer for community events.
“I get personal satisfaction in knowing what I do is helping others. With the fair I am helping the community have an event that they can enjoy,” he said. “I encourage others to volunteer because helping to do things makes the community a better place to be.”
This is certainly one piece of advice that Durst has applied to his own life as he continues to devote much of his time to the Mason County Fair each year, and continues to make it an entertaining event that both individuals and families can enjoy.
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