After 18 years of faithful service to the Hillsdale County Fair­grounds, home to “The Most Popular Fair on Earth,” manager Scott Dow is stepping down.

Dow said he is retiring to take care of himself, after fighting for his health over the past few years. Mark Williams, who for­merly worked in the investor side of business, will be taking his place. Williams said he applied for the position because he was looking for some­thing com­pletely dif­ferent. Williams will be the 15th manager of the Hillsdale County Fair­grounds.

Pres­ident of the Fair Board Tom Richards, who worked closely with Dow throughout his years as manager, said he was “dev­as­tated” when he heard the news.

“When Scott told me he was stepping down, I said two things to him,” Richards said, “as pres­ident, I’m dev­as­tated, but as your friend, you’re doing the right thing.”

Reflecting on his time as manager of the fair, Dow believes some of the greatest accom­plish­ments during his time as manager were the tremendous amount of improve­ments to the facil­ities, and the growth of a teamwork approach.

“None of it was accom­plished by myself or even because I was the manager,” Dow said. “It wasn’t one person who made that happen. We were able to accom­plish all of these things because of the ded­i­cated people that we have worked with.”

Dow said that one of the most chal­lenging aspects of his time as manager was gen­er­ating revenue to maintain the 37 fair­ground buildings. The Hillsdale County Fair is part of the 541c non-profit Hillsdale County Agri­cul­tural Society, and is not county-funded or city-funded. In order to fund the fair­grounds, Dow and the fair board have had to promote what they do in a variety of ways.

“We have a treasure here,” Dow said, “and it is important to pre­serve it.”

Dow’s 18 years as manager has taught him several things, but above all, he learned patience.

“I met people from all walks of life with dif­ferent interests and agendas, and I had to learn to be patient and work with them in order to pull all of those interests together and look at the whole. That’s really what the fair is all about,” Dow said.

Richards said that under Dow’s selfless man­agement and excellent lead­ership, the fair has grown. He’s sure Williams will con­tinue to follow in Dow’s foot­steps and uphold the beauty and tra­dition of the Hillsdale County Fair.

“The fair has a great tra­dition and history. It is very unique and it’s a dif­ferent expe­rience in today’s day and age. It’s also very suc­cessful and running well, and I’d like to keep it that way,” Williams said.

Moving forward, Richards and Williams are looking to expand the use of the fair­grounds.

“It’s too good of a place to be left empty for months at a time,” Richards said.

The fair board is also eagerly seeking ways to partner with Hillsdale College, and the board is planning to set up a booth at the Hillsdale College Source in the fall.

Over the next few months, Dow plans on fin­ishing various fair projects and making himself available to Williams. He hopes that as they move forward, Williams and the rest of their team will con­tinue to provide energy and enthu­siasm for the fair.

“There needs to con­stantly be a will­ingness to change while main­taining the tra­di­tions that make the fair what it is,” Dow said.

As Dow steps back and Williams takes his place, the fair board remains opti­mistic about the tran­sition. Dow’s com­mitment to the fair and its tra­di­tions were invaluable, and his sac­ri­ficial lead­ership impacted the Hillsdale County Fair­grounds in innu­merable ways.

“I’ve worked hard to pattern myself after Scott,” Richards said, “He is a good role model in every sense of the word — as a manager, and as a friend.”

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Kaylee McGhee
Kaylee McGhee is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in Politics with a minor in Journalism. This is her fourth year writing for the Collegian and she serves as the paper's Opinions Editor. Kaylee worked in Washington D.C. last year and wrote for the Weekly Standard. Her work has also appeared in the Detroit News and the Orange County Register. Follow her on Twitter: @KayleeDMcGhee email: