Grounds for camping: Generating sites eases campground demand

Demand for camping sites at the Auglaize County Fair continues to grow, and to ease the backlog fairgrounds crews are creating a private electric generator area.

Auglaize County Agricultural Society Secretary Fred Piehl informed Fair Board members the waiting list for fairgrounds’ 350 camping sites during the Auglaize County Fair has grown to 60, with demand growing each year.

“We have a couple of more areas we can develop in the camping area, but we don’t have any plans to do so yet,” Piehl said. “We always talk about it, but we are not ready yet.”

Piehl explained a couple of years ago they developed 30 additional sites with water and electric hook-ups at a cost of approximately $50,000. They are trying to set aside money each year for additional development.

They have available ground to develop 60 more camping sites, but the cost is prohibitive to do so this year.

To ease the waiting list, they plan on having 30 electric generator sites, which will be a distance away from the regular camping area. Campers at the electric generator sites would still be able to use the fairground’s bathrooms and showers.

Giving a brief history of the campground, Piehl explained the camping area expanded from 60 sites to 300 sites in 2000, with an additional 50 to 75 sites available for concessionaires.

“Camping has to be gaining in popularity and it seems more and more people have campers because I don’t remember this many campers when I was bringing my kids to the fair,” Piehl said. “There are still just as many kids attending the fair, but I just don’t remember this number of campers.

“I am also surprised by the number of people who vacation here that week,” he said. “From the time they pull in on that Friday or Saturday before the fair, they seldom go home. Mom, dad and the kids pull in and while mom and dad or one of the parents might leave for work or to go home for a spell during the week, most of them stay with us.”

To provide a base line for how populated the fairground’s campground is, Piehl pointed out more people reside in the campground the week of the fair then live in the village of New Knoxville (891 residents) or Waynesfield (803 residents). He estimates between 1,000 and 1,250 people stay on the grounds that week.

People also stop in during the week of the fair this year and make their reservations for a camping site for the next year’s fair or learn the dates of the fair so they can request the time off from work.

He noted people often demand the same camping sites, with some sites having passed down through at least three generations.

“The fair is a major deal in their lives,” Piehl said. “That is exactly what we want. People feel good about coming to the fair, they feel safe staying on the grounds.

“This is just a good place to go,” he said. “It is not just about the kids, it is not just about the adults — the fair is about the entire family.”