December 22, 2014

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Lorain County Fair Board says changing date not an option

Libby Dvorak, 11, of Wakeman, shows her hog at the market auction with Lily Dowdell, 11, of Rochester, at the 2013 Lorain County Fair. The fair board says changing the date of the fair to accommodate earlier school start times is not an option. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

Libby Dvorak, 11, of Wakeman, shows her hog at the market auction with Lily Dowdell, 11, of Rochester, at the 2013 Lorain County Fair. The fair board says changing the date of the fair to accommodate earlier school start times is not an option. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

LAGRANGE — Keystone Board of Education members and several parents discussed petitioning the Lorain County Fair to change fair dates so the district could begin school earlier this year.

Lorain County Fair Board leaders said that’s not an option.

Charisse Nikel, office manager for the Lorain County Fair, said the fair board was contacted by the school district Tuesday in regard to the issue, but the fair board does not have control of the schedule.

“The fair dates really can’t be moved because they’re all set by the Department of Agriculture,” she said. “Our fair dates are always the week before Labor Day.”

Nikel said the Department of Agriculture sets the dates to prevent competition between fairs near each other.

The proposal to start the school year earlier was made because of state-mandated tests, which Keystone Curriculum Director David Kish said would be difficult for students to pass without more preparation.

The proposal drew criticism from some parents and 4-H members, however. About 12 percent of the district’s students are involved in the program, and 4-H members are required to work throughout the fair on their various projects.

Wellington Schools Superintendent John Nolan said while the district has considered shortening holiday breaks to prepare for the tests, it is not feasible to start school during the fair.

The Lorain County Fair, which takes place in Wellington, brings in too much traffic, he said. In addition, about 25 percent of Wellington’s students are involved in 4-H and 20 percent in Future Farmers of America.

“As a former farmer and a former FFA adviser, it’s very important to me,” Nolan said. “For a lot of families, that’s their family vacation.”

Although the Lorain County Fair Board will not change the dates, Nikel said a representative of the Lorain County Fair will attend Monday night’s meeting at Keystone High School. The district will discuss various calendar proposals during the 6 p.m. meeting.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.