February 5, 2014
DARKE COUNTY - The Darke County Agricultural Society announced on Thursday that Francis Byers was named the Parade Marshal for 2014’s Great Darke County Fair.
Born Dec. 21, 1921, Byers has been exhibiting fruits, vegetables and grains at The Great Darke County Fair since 1939, and has won more than 250 rosettes and hundreds of exhibitor ribbons over the years.
Byers has many great fair memories, but warmly reflected that not much had changed since 1939. In fact, he likes it so much that he hasn’t missed an annual fair yet.
His Darke County Fair awards also include Best Display of Vegetables and Best Display of Fruits, and Byers has previously received the distinction of Grand Winner of All Displays at the Ohio State Fair. Because of his many accolades, he was inducted into the Ohio Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1996.
Byers’ children, Donna Jeanne Christian and Merrill Lee Byers, also enjoy gardening and continue his tradition by participating in local farmers markets, and they’ll perhaps carry on Byers’ long tradition of fair showmanship someday.
“Who knows, maybe they will take my place at The Great Darke County Fair,” said Byers.
He is a 1940 graduate of Monroe High School, grew up on a farm in Van Buren Township and now lives on Erisman Road.
In a strange twist of fate, Byers was previously selected as the 2001 Parade Marshal, but missed out on the chance due to inclement weather. Instead, the next year he rode in the parade with then-marshals Frank and Louise Sheffer.
But now for 2014 Byers is scheduled to finish the job as parade marshal on Weds., Aug. 21 beginning at 10 a.m. in front of the Grandstand.