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 The GoGreen Area is also looking for a sponsor and volunteers for this year’s Kids Day.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.