Fair board dismisses fair manager

The St. Joseph County Grange Fair Board of Directors voted this week to dismiss Bill Johnson as fair manager, a move that was followed by Jim Barnes stepping down as president of the 15-member board of directors.

The moves came during Monday’s monthly board meeting.

Johnson was unavailable for comment Wednesday. Barnes declined to comment on the matter.

Tom Miller, interim president of the fair board, described the action as “a tough situation.”

Miller was not specific about the vote to dismiss Johnson, who oversaw the fair for more than 20 years. He said the vote regarding Johnson’s fate, however, was not unanimous.

Still, Miller said the majority of the board merely felt it was time “to go in another direction.”

Miller added that the board will do its research to figure out what St. Joseph County residents are looking for to spark renewed interest in the fair.

This year’s attendance was about 141,000 people over the course of the seven-day event, which concluded Sept. 22. Generally, the fair averages about 150,000 annually but weather has been blamed as a major culprit in keeping attendance figures below that average the past few years.

Miller said he was not sure how much Johnson earned annually as fair manager.

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