Increasingly urban Hamilton County Fair goes green

Last year’s 155-year-old Hamilton County Fair saw its return to relevance, with a 56% increase in fair-goers, but it also saw the debut of the GoGreen Area. The GoGreen Area of the Hamilton County Fair focuses on environmental and sustainability awareness and educational opportunities, and it got its start thanks to the frustration of a Carthage resident.

“I didn’t really like what was going on with the fair,” said Jennifer McWhorter, GoGreen Area chairwoman. “I live down the street and I really wanted to see things change and get better [at the fair], so I thought I should share some of my ideas.”

That’s exactly what McWhorter did, and with that, the GoGreen Area was born at the 2009 Hamilton County Fair. For the first year, McWhorter was able to have 23 recycling bins placed around the fair grounds in addition to the extremely popular Kids Day activities focused around her concepts.

“A lot of people out there want to go green,” explained McWhorter. “So I thought, why don’t we bring this to the fair and help make a positive change in the community. I wanted to create educational opportunities for children and other residents so that they could learn how to go green.”

McWhorter was able to do this in part because she is certified as a Master Composter and Gardener by Purdue University. She also is a practicing vermicomposter – a composting process that uses red worms. In the end, McWhorter just wanted to share her talent and passion with other people in the community.

GoGreen Area at the 2009 Hamilton County Fair – images provided.

McWhorter continued, “The Hamilton County Fair is leaning towards being more of an urban fair nowadays, and while there is still a good amount of agriculture in Hamilton County, there is a strong desire amongst people wanting to be sustainable in their urban communities throughout the county.”

This year fair-goers can look forward to GoGreen Area partnerships with Building Value, Findlay Market’s urban gardening program. The 2010 Hamilton County Fair will take place from August 10 through August 14 and will once again include the GoGreen Area. McWhorter is looking to grow the impact this year by engaging other Hamilton County residents to come up with ideas for green events that they want to make happen by contacting gogreenwiththehcfair@gmail.com. The GoGreen Area is also looking for a sponsor and volunteers for this year’s Kids Day.

  • Quim

    Growing up in a smaller town in a time long long ago, I am wondering, How many of the readers here grew up going to the county fair? When I was a kid it was the only chance we had to ride the rides. Kids growing up around here nowadays have King's Island with the giant rides about 6 mos/yr. In a smaller town, you always knew somebody exhibiting something, animals, produce, crafts….
    Do younger Cincinnatians have any connection to this fair?
    I am glad they are making the changes they are making. I have heard old timers in power were very reluctant to make any changes.

  • Randy Simes

    I never really went to the fair growing up. I've been a few times, but nothing regular.

    I think you're right that it will need to become a tradition to really be financially stable long-term. To that end, that's why I think it would be a bad idea to move the fair out to the western rural area of the county as it would further distant it from most of the county's population and youth. Glad to see it is adapting, and I think this will prove to be beneficial in accomplishing exactly what we're talking about…as long as people know the fair is adapting and changing to become a more urban and 21st Century fair.