By Linda Kor
A familiar face has returned to the Navajo County Fair Board. J.R. DeSpain, one of the original founding members of the fair board, was chosen by members present at the July 10 meeting to fill a vacancy on the board.
DeSpain began volunteering at the fairgrounds in 1974 when there were two commissions overseeing the fairgrounds: the fair commission and the racing commission.
“The two groups never really had a great relationship, each having their own interests. Then in 1980 Fair, Inc. was formed, which combined the two commissions and created a better working environment,” DeSpain explained. He began serving as the chairman of that board in 1981, and over the next 19 years continued to work with other volunteers to create one of the finest county fairs in the state.
In 2000, DeSpain was elected as a Navajo County Supervisor and upon recommendation by the county attorney, resigned as a member of the fair board. “As a county supervisor I would review their (fair board) budget and it was determined as a conflict of interest,” explained DeSpain.
Now that he is no longer a supervisor, he can once again devote his time to improving an ever-expanding county fair. “I’m glad to be back on the board. It’s truly a nice facility and, hopefully, we can continue to improve the fair each year,” he said.
Serving on the board has become a family tradition as DeSpain’s son Rusty DeSpain and daughter Redgie Justman also serve on the board. His family members recused themselves from the vote and DeSpain received the majority of votes cast by the remaining members present. There were three other individuals interested in taking a seat on the board, with one removing himself from the selection process in support of DeSpain.
DeSpain believes it may be time to adjust the bylaws to allow for a bigger board. “I think we should allow for more than 15 people to serve on the board. Now so many want to join, I think as many as 25 or 30 should be allowed. This is all volunteerism; it’s what it’s all about,” stated DeSpain.
Other board members include President Mike Sample, Vice President Jimmy Crosby, Secretary Melissa Buckley, Treasurer Leah Thomas, Jake Hatch, Marshall Losey, Steve Gouker, Sara Hansen, Trent Larson, Valerie Slade, Wes DeSpain and Tim Kelley.
With the fair fast approaching, the board will meet at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, beginning Aug. 7.
By Linda Kor