Many hands make light work for county fair

Published 12:23 pm Monday, July 29, 2013

COURTLAND—The Franklin-Southampton County Fair doesn’t just spring up overnight. From the end of one to the beginning of another, there’s always something to be done in shaping each festival.

Glenn Joyner, now in the first of his three-year term as president, can testify to the frequent work required.

“It’s just about a full-time job,” Joyner said. “We work on it a year around, such as the grounds. There’s always something to do.”

A few years ago, for example, air conditioning was installed in the largest building, which will be used for non-profit groups, vendors and home arts and crafts.

“It’s a big improvement and makes for a better facility. In August you need that AC,” Joyner said.

Naturally, this term as leader isn’t his first exposure to the event. Previously he was vice president for two years. Before that, Joyner served on the board for six or seven years, and he handled beer sales.

He figures he’s been involved 15 years or more, and it’s all been as a volunteer, not having ever received even a stipend.

“I guess it’s just a love for the fair,” Joyner said about what keeps him interested. “I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I enjoy bring the entertainment to the community. You meet a lot of great people.”

As a young man, he enjoyed the Midway, with all of its games, stuffed animals and other attractions at the fair.

The Sedley native, now living in Carrsville, said he has no favorites about what he’s enjoyed through the years.

Walter Young has been involved in the fair for as long as he can remember.

“I’ve been involved since the beginning of time,” Young said with a laugh. “Actually, since it first began 33 or 34 years ago.”

Serving as chairman of the livestock is Young’s specialty, owing to his close connections to 4-H. A lifelong resident of the area, he lives close to the fairgrounds.

“I met my wife, Betty Sue, in 4-H. She helps me,” he said. “My children were also in 4-H, and now I have grandchildren in it as well. That’s the main reason I’m also involved. Not just mine but others. That’s what’s all about.”

Janie Young, a granddaughter, will be superintendent of the heifer show, he said.

He also has other people to assist with the livestock/4-H portion of the fair.

In addition to handling questions, complaints or concerns, Young said, he also works with the superintendents to raise enough money so it doesn’t cost the fair to award money and ribbons to the kids. The target amount is $5,000.

Visitors to the annual fair have Barbette Porter of Courtland to thank for the entertainment. Porter’s led the group that seeks out the acts for 30 out of the 32 years she’s been in active with the event.

“We got to the Virginia Association of Fairs and listen to entertainment,” Porter said, adding that those with her will review demos and interviews. “We make a decision who we wish to have, whether on the main stage or grounds.”

The Staple Safari Zoo, Fast Action Motorsports and the Nansemond County Cloggers are among the acts she wanted to single out.

Planning for larger acts requires about a year in advance, said the Boykins native.

“We go through Variety Attractions from Zanesville, Ohio. The manager has an ear for what’s good,” said Porter, who listed past appearances by Brad Paisley, Tracey Lawrence, Jason Aldean, Ronnie Adkins, Neal McCoy, Hunter Hayes and Kip Moore.

“Lots and lots and lots. Oh! And Lady Antebellum,” she said. “How could I forget them?

Many of the aforementioned acts appeared having a number one hit either right before or right after they came to the Franklin-Southampton County Fair, she mentioned.

“This is my one hobby, other than my family. I just love it,” Porter said about her longevity with the fair. “It’s a wonderful way to give back to the community and something great for the county to take pride in.

“I personally think we have the best fair for hundreds of miles.”