COLUMBIANA - As it has since 1885, the city's annual street fair is evolving slightly but not straying from its original purpose: community.
Under the management of Jacob Sevek this year, of the American Legion Benjamin Firestone Post 290, some small changes are making a difference. Those include the creation of a new logo to help "brand" the fair, and a new website.
"You look at other local fairs in the area, particularly Canfield, and you've got the Rooster - it's iconic for them. And the Columbiana County Fair is 'Wheel on Down to the Fair.' And you've got the Johnny Appleseed Festival Johnny Appleseed. We need something that is kind of recognizable by the community," Sevek said.
The logo will be decided by those who attend the fair and vote. The three finalists' logos will be displayed at the ticket trailer and votes will be cast there during fair hours, starting Thursday. Voting ends at 9 p.m. Saturday and the winner will be announced at 11 p.m. prior to the $5,000 drawing.
Finalists are Eric Ostrander, Kevin Starkey and Dane Lavin.
Sevek said the logo will be featured on the new website, www.columbianastreetfair.com, future business cards, letter head, T-shirts, and the like.
"When designing a webpage for the street fair it helps to have a logo that ties it all together. We have three really great finalists," he said.
The winner will be recognized in the Legion's newsletter and on the website and receive a $100 Visa gift card, he added.
The logo will be debuted at next year's fair.
Legion Post Commander Dick Simpson said Sevek has done a good job of taking over after Dave Reash resigned as street fair manager.
"Reash had been doing it for a lot of years and decided it was time to quit and Jake had been his number two ... Another generation has taken the helm," he said.
The Legion began sponsoring the fair in 1920 and has organized it ever since, with the exception of 1943, when it was discontinued so they could assist the war effort. It returned the following year.
Prior to the Legion it was organized by the Merchants of Columbiana and before that by noteworthy individuals. At one point it was known as the H.H. Smith Pumpkin Show and entertainment consisted of wheelbarrow, potato, and egg races.
The fair supports the activities of the local self-funded Legion, with a portion given away through their charitable account.
"I expect it to be a wonderful street fair," Simpson said. "The weather is supposed to be good for a change. Most all the fairs seem to be doing really well. I expect us to do the same."
The 128th fair will kick off with a parade Thursday at 6:30 p.m. starting at the Harvey S. Firestone pool parking lot. Registration begins at 5 p.m. The fair will continue through Saturday, opening to the public at 5:30 p.m. Friday and noon on Saturday. It closes at 11 p.m. each day.
Musical entertainment in the bandstand will be provided by Jeff Kelly Thursday at 7:30 p.m., The DT's Friday at 7 p.m., the John Branch Band Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. and the New Silver Eagle Band at 8 p.m.
Sevek said the best part of the fair is Friday afternoon, when special needs kids are provided free meals and rides from noon to 2 p.m.
"We have done that for quite a few years now. We expect about 120 children, all special needs. They are able to get on and off the rides and have the time to do it without being rushed," he said.
Rides are being provided by J&J Amusements.
Simpson said the 1963 and 1968 class reunions will be held at the post located along state Route 14. He and other Legion members have been working on the post's interior in preparation, he said.
Those changes include rearranging the furniture and painting new chairs and barstools. "We are trying to make it look like a more friendly place," he said.
During the City Council meeting Tuesday he thanked the city for their help with the fair's organization over the years and in turn Mayor David Spatholt commended the Legion for their work.
"The street fair does a lot for the community. I would hate to see it go away. I'm proud the American Legion does it for us. It benefits the whole community," he said.