By Jill Gosche
COLUMBUS - Getting to greet senior citizens visiting Ohio State Fair, attending the fair's hall of fame luncheon and squirting children during the fair's daily parade were just some of the experiences a McCutchenville native got while serving on the state Junior Fair Board.
Ellen Gilliland, a junior studying agricultural communication at Ohio State University, served as the vice president of Ohio State Fair's Junior Fair Board this year. She was one of the board members who represented FFA.
Gilliland is a 2010 Mohawk High School graduate and was on Seneca County's Junior Fair Board for about eight years, serving as the president last year. She said probably the most difficult thing about serving on the state board was not being able to be at the county fair with her family and extended family on Junior Fair Board.
"I did do double duty (last year)," she said.
The organizations of 4-H, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire USA, Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Farm Bureau, FFA, Girl Scouts, Grange and Tech Ed are represented on the 20-member state Junior Fair Board, according to the state fair's website.
It states each member serves as an ambassador between his or her youth organization, the fair and the fair-going public.
Gilliland said four FFA representatives serve on the board. She served as a state FFA officer in 2010-11 and worked at Camp Muskingum, and two staff members usually are selected to represent FFA on the state board.
She said her first year on the board was a lot of fun and was a learning experience. She said she didn't know about a lot of the organizations prior to serving on the board.
Gilliland said this year, she learned more about the fair's commissioners and more about how the fair operates. Because she was the board's vice president, she was able to participate in more events and functions.
She said her favorite experience of both years was getting to be in charge of the state fair's daily parade. She was responsible for getting all the units in line and at the end of the parade, got on the last fire truck and rode through the grounds, squirting children.
Other responsibilities of board members included offering welcoming comments to show observers, serving as the costumed characters that roamed the grounds and being ushers for evening concerts.
Gilliland said she enjoyed the people she got to meet over the past two years, and the end of her two-year term was bittersweet.
"(I) had a lot of fun," she said.