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Fulton County Fair preparations require months

Displays show agriculture as it is and was

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Curtis Johnson, left, and Dennis Wyse install canvas in a 1957 International pull-type combine as they get ready for the Fulton County Fair. Mr. Johnson says ‘a core of guys … help me find stuff.'

The Blade/Lori King
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For Curtis Johnson, fair season starts early. 

For the last six years years, his preparations for the Fulton County Fair have started in January. Because he arranges displays that feature agricultural products and information from decades long gone, he needs time to search for items.

This year's display will feature one farming staple — the combine harvester.

Mr. Johnson said the display will include pull-type combines of the 1940s and 1950s and will work its way through the decades, ending with current equipment. Placards will describe how the equipment was used.

"We really strive to keep our fair an agricultural-based fair and feel that's real important," he said. "This year we're going to put three baskets of oats, wheat, and barley. We just like to teach the public about the history of agriculture."

Mr. Johnson said he enjoys fair week, which starts on Friday this year, because "we have schoolkids come out here and we give them a little tour around the fairgrounds and give them a little history. … A lot of the kids maybe live in town. It gets a little more difficult."

Asked how he finds antique equipment for his displays, he replied, "Lots of phone calls. I kind of got a core of guys interested in that type of thing, so when I tell them what I'm looking for, they help me find stuff. Out here in the country in these barns, you'd be surprised at what we find.

"We get the show arena all set up, and I start calling these guys and they start bringing this machinery."

He said that today they will start "dragging that stuff all outside." He added, "We've never done it in any less than four days."

But the heavy labor always pays off, he said, especially when he thinks back to some of the memories of his own childhood on the farm.

"I guess what my dad was using when I was a kid interests me," he said, talking about the old equipment. "I kind of really like that sort of thing, and I'm glad that other people do too."

Contact Kelly McLendon at kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.

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