GREENVILLE, Ohio – Community Blood Center “T-Shirt Day” on Wednesday, Aug. 23 came right in the magical midway point of the nine days of the annual Great Darke County Fair.
Fairgoers put time on hold by taking a week of vacation or clocking out early. Whole families move to the fairgrounds, sleeping in campers after daily livestock showings and Bake-a-Rama competitions. Retirees wind back the clock as they wander the midway reliving younger days and fairs gone by. Kids stretch summer a few days longer before reluctantly returning to school.
For blood donors, T-Shirt Day means digging deep in the dresser drawers and wearing a blast of color from the past. They wore their colors proudly as they stopped by the CBC tent to enter the door prize drawings, pick out free t-shirts, and help CBC’s Dana Puterbaugh pass the goal of 250 visits from donors wearing CBC t-shirts.
“This was the ninth year for t-shirt day!” said Dana. “We exceeded the goal this year with 284 donors stopping by the booth! Last year we had 239 and this year 284.”
The donors came from towns across Darke County and beyond the county lines. Greenville led the way with 102 visitors. Arcanum was well represented with 30 visitors and Versailles was close behind with 27.
Greenville fifth-grader Kyrie Unger and her mom Kathy stopped at the CBC tent on the way to the sheep barn. “She shows sheep and we’re going to get her lamb ready,” said Kathy. Kyrie’s lamb “Dawn” would be competing in the breed show.
North Star’s Bill Fraley works and donates at Midmark. He could relax at T-Shirt Day because his 13-year old son Caleb had finished the rabbit competition with a ribbon. “He did pretty good showing rabbits. He got the best in his class!”
Wednesday was Armed Forces Veterans Day at the fair, and many donors wore the CBC “Military Appreciation” and “American Spirit” t-shirts in anticipation of the Veteran’s Parade and Memorial Service that evening.
Kevin and Kathy Grilliot from Versailles chose shirts that were old but unfaded. “We were looking for something more classic,” said Kevin.
Sharon Brown from Eaton wore a tropical Parrot Head t-shirt because it was the brightest in her t-shirt inventory. Her fair memories are also unfaded.
“I have been coming to the fair ever since I can remember,” she said. “We lived in Lewisburg. My dad would take vacation, we’d bring fried chicken, and we’d come up here with the whole family.”
Greenville donor Glenn Turner wore a Parrot Head t-shirt because “It was clean, and it’s white on a hot day.”
“I’ve been coming to the fair since I was old enough to drive,” said Glenn. “The fair didn’t mean much until you started getting interested in girls.” Now he shows off his free admission pass to the fair that goes to couples that have been married for 50 years.
It wasn’t the fair that brought Glen and his wife together. “We met cruising Broadway,” he said. “They don’t do that anymore. She was with a couple of other girls. At Christmas time we went cruising Broadway in a Chevy convertible. It was cold, but that’s what’s nice about riding in a convertible – you get close!” They have four sons, seven grandkids and eight great grandkids.
Tangela Weimer wore her CBC colors proudly on T-Shirt Day. The Weimers are a farm family from New Madison and they had spent the last three days showing dairy cattle and getting ready for the sale on Thursday. “It’s their college fund,” she said of this traditional family project. “It teaches them a work ethic.”
They are also strong believers in blood donations because donors helped give her son a future.
“We started donating because our son had three open-heart surgeries,” Tangela said. Their son Amos – nicknamed “Famous Amos” by his hospital nurses – was born with a heart defect. He is now 14 years old and despite a few set-backs, lives an active teenager’s life. He plays junior high football and baseball, and will come straight to the fair from football practice.
Over the years and over the miles, the Darke County Fair is a celebration of community. Tangela sees a similar bond in giving blood. “We wanted to give back,” she said. “We’re very appreciative. We’re in this together.”