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2017 Great Darke County Fair Parade Marshal

December 23, 2016 – Greenville OH

The Board of Directors for the Darke County Agricultural Society recently selected recently retired employee Ken Coates Sr as the 2017 Great Darke County Fair Parade Marshal. Ken started out mowing yards in Ansonia when he was 12. He would do any work possible to make money. He then moved to Gettysburg and helped several farmers, including 2014 Parade Marshal Francis Byers. After graduating from High School, Ken worked for Armco in Piqua. He then went to work for Frigidaire in 1963. During this time, Ken also went to night school, earning his Associate Degree. Ken then applied for and received an apprenticeship, and became a tinsmith (sheet metal worker). He remained at Frigidaire for 36 ½ years, until he retired. Ken was hired by the Darke County Agricultural Society in April of 2001 as a mower. Ken remained in that position until for one year, when he was promoted to Assistant Caretaker and worked under Head Caretaker John Robinson. In 2004, Ken and his wife Ona, moved into the Caretaker residence on the fairgrounds. When John Robinson retired, Ken then shared the Head Caretaker responsibilities with George O’Dell until 2008, when he became Head Caretaker. Ken has been a great asset to the Darke County Agricultural Society over the past 15 plus years. Ken was responsible for the setup and teardown of approximately 300 annual non-fair events as well as the 9-day annual fair that begins the 3rd Friday of each August. Ken supervised a staff of maintenance workers that were also responsible for upkeep of 195 acres, 53 buildings, 20 restrooms, 228 horse stalls and a vast inventory of tools, equipment, pens, cages, tables, chairs and many other items that are used both fair and non-fair time. Ken could always be found working outside of his normal hours and on weekends. Ken had a passion for his position and treated everything at the fairgrounds as if it were his own. Ken was truly a “jack of all trades”, as Ken’s skills included welding, fabricating, plumbing, carpentering, minor electrical repair and service/repair of all motorized equipment. Ken married his wife Ona (Lindemuth) in March of 1964. Ken and Ona have 3 children (Michele, Wendy, Ken Jr.), 4 grandchildren and 2 step great grandchildren. Ken reflected on his time working for the Fair, stating “I always said it takes 2 months to prepare for the annual Fair and 2 months after the Fair to get everything straightened back up”. Ken enjoyed years he and his staff set up the stage, then help get the equipment onto the stage, and then listened to the pre-show sound checks. Ken really enjoyed listening to the artists songs. Ken met a lot of people during his years at the fairgrounds and said these friendships will stick with him forever. His favorite memory is that of having been directly involved in 15 Fairs, seeing some top music stars entertain and being able to work with so many people on many types of situations. Ken ended with this comment. “It has been very satisfying. I believe we always gave our best and helped make each Fair a success. Thanks for the memories”. Ken will be recognized at the Grand Opening of the 161st Great Darke County Fair that will take place at 8:00am on Friday, August 18, 2017 and also at the annual Parade of Champions event that will take place in front of the Grandstand on Thursday, August 24th.

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