With the Greater Auglaize County Relay for Life only three weeks away, it will also be the third year the event has been hosted at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.
“We were trying to give relay a boost by changing the venue,” Relay for Life Team Recruitment and Co-Media Chair Laura Kelley said. “When you are at a relay, you want people to be involved in everything.”
At the previous location, Harmon Field, the team’s tents were set up outside the walking area, so it was not as easy to see other teams’ booths as walkers went around the track.
Now at the fairgrounds, the booths are set up along with walkway, so people passing by on the track can see other team’s booths and what they are selling to raise money for the cause.
“This keeps everyone more involved, and keeps everything together,” Kelley said. “So, this way, you can say hello to people walking by.”
Relay for Life team captain and committee member Gary Webb agreed.
“The best thing is being able to have the teams and their tents and/or fundraisers right next to the walking track,” Webb said. “This makes it more intimate and walkers are able to stop and see all the different foods and fundraisers that are going on as they walk. Also they can pitch a tent or camper right by the track and spend the night without being far from the festivities.”
Another benefit is the parking is more accessible at the fairgrounds.
“It’s a lot easier for survivors, because they can drive up to the building for their reception,” Kelley said.
A reception is held for the survivors in the Commercial Building at the fairgrounds followed by the first lap of the event, which is known as the “Survivors’ Lap.”
“We also have use of the Commercial Building where the survivor dinner is held,” Webb said. “They can then come out of the Commercial Building and begin Relay with the Survivor Lap without having to walk far. Parking is also not an issue at the fairgrounds.”
Electricity is available as there are available ports for teams and their booths, since the fairgrounds is well equipped with easily accessible electricity, in which they use for the fair, Webb said.
Also, when the Relay for Life changed locations, they also changed the dates. While at Harmon Field, the event was usually held the second or third weekend in May, and now it is held at the end of June.
“We changed the date to get better weather,” Kelley said.
In May, the teams never knew what the weather may be like, but in June, they can typically count on good weather.
Kelley said at the beginning there were mixed feelings about changing the location.
Kelley said that Harmon Field was a beautiful place to hold the event, and one benefit of having it at this location was the visibility for others to see that the event was going on.
“Some people didn’t know we were out there,” Kelley said.
But a bonus is that the track at the fairgrounds has recently been resurfaced.
“As far as comparing to having it at Harmon Field, there is no better walking surface than the track at Harmon Field,” Webb said. “Although the fairgrounds have resurfaced the blacktop of where our walking area is and is 100 percent better than the first year out there.”
With the changing of locations, there are always positives and negatives.
“There are always the good and the bad when you move an event of this size to a new location,” Webb said. “I was very skeptical of the move myself, but as a 2012 Relay team captain and committee member I assure you it was the right move for Relay’s future and the participants and visitors will see the benefits.”
But having it out by the fairgrounds makes it more accessible for teams to bring campers, and stake tents for their booths.
“It’s nice when people bring campers,” Kelley said. “We are hoping a lot of teams stay throughout the night. We will have a lot of activities to keep everyone involved in.”
Relay for Life will be held on June 22-23 at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds.