Jena Terrell: From fair fan to fair manager

“I’ve enjoyed just getting to know the different businesses in our county. I  didn’t realize all the connections and all the small and big businesses that go into putting (the fair) together. We wouldn’t have any fair if it wasn’t for sponsors.”
“I’ve enjoyed just getting to know the different businesses in our county. I didn’t realize all the connections and all the small and big businesses that go into putting (the fair) together. We wouldn’t have any fair if it wasn’t for sponsors.”
Jena Terrell carries fond memories of the Marion County Fair during the years she lived in Hillsboro, from fourth grade through three and a half years of high school.<p>“Just growing up here, it was a big deal in the summer to get together with friends,” she said. <p>Later this month, Terrell will be experiencing her first Marion County Fair in the capacity of fair manager.<p>“I moved to Hesston for 12-13 years, and now I’ve come back to the area,” she said. “I just love the community, the small-town environment. That’s what drew me to get on the fair board in the first place. I wanted to plug in somewhere and help out.”<p>In addition to her fair duties, Terrell has continued to work at Agco Corp. in Hesston as a “specification analysis engineer.”<p> “I basically take the blueprints or copies of the parts from the engineers who design them,” she explained. “I put them in the database so that manufacturing sees the updates and sees the new parts.”<p>These days she is living in Lehigh with husband Phillip and their four children. She became a participating member of the fair board in January.<p>“After a couple of meetings, we decided we really needed a fair manager to take over the details,” Terrell said. “I talked to people on the board, and they did an interview. Some other people applied, but it worked out that I got that job.<p>“It’s really helped to get to know the responsibilities of the board, too,” she added. “There’s a lot that goes into putting the fair on.”<p>So far, the thing Terrell likes best about her new role are the board members who set the direction and the tone.<p>“Myron (Regier, president) and Stephanie (Rich­mond, executive board) and everyone on the board has been so kind,” she said. “I knew them from different things, but didn’t really know them. But getting to know them now—their passion for the fair, the years they’ve put into it—is just amazing.”<p>Terrell also likes the flexible work schedule.<p>“Some months it’s not very busy, and some months, like right now, I’m trying to get everything done,” she said. “I can do this (fair work) in the evening and still get to my kids’ ballgames and different things. It’s a part-time job, but it’s always helpful with four kids and activities.”<p>So far, one of Terrell’s most enjoyable tasks has been connecting with the fair’s corporate sponsors.<p>“I’ve enjoyed just getting to know the different businesses in our county,” she said. “I didn’t realize all the connections and all the small and big businesses that go into putting (the fair) together. We wouldn’t have any fair if it wasn’t for sponsors.”<p>On the flip side, one her most challenging tasks has been trying to coordinate the schedules of the 22 fair board members for meetings and work projects.<p>“Like right now, we have work days, and I’m trying to arrange everybody’s schedule to get things done productively,” Terrell said. “That might be the biggest struggle.”<p>Terrell is prepared for her fair manager duties to ramp up another notch or two as opening day nears.<p>“I feel like it will be stressful just because it’s my first one,” she said. “The board told me I don’t have to be there the whole time, but I feel like I want to be so I can see what I need to know and learn for next year. But I don’t know what to expect, exactly.”<p>Terrell said she is depending on her natural skills to carry her through. <p>“I love to plan and organize, so in my head I’ve got everything in black and white—and it’s just going to go smoothly,” she said with a knowing laugh.