It started off simply enough. El Rita Mansford’s daughter joined 4-H. Soon, the mother found herself saying, “I can,” when a call for help with this or that came. Then, “It went into something else and then something else
and then something else,” reflects Mansford. Now, 28 years have passed, and the volunteer is still very much enmeshed in answering the call. That’s one of many reasons the Battle Ground resident was named Clark County Fair Volunteer of the Year for 2007.
Mansford has been a 4-H leader for 25 years. She served as superintendent of the 4-H consumer project for three years, and was on the
Clark County 4-H Leaders Board for several years. For
21 years, Mansford has been the clerk for the 4-H and Open Class horse shows at the
Clark County Fair. Mansford’s fair sched- ule kicks into high gear
come June 15, when all the 4-H horse entries and certificates are
due. “What I do is get all the 4-H entries for the fair
ready, sort them out, take care of any corrections and enter them in the computer at the fairgrounds,” Mans- ford details. On the Wednes- day before the fair, the arena office is open for fair-related business. That’s when Camp Mansford, complete with a motorhome, is established near the equestrian arena. In addition, “We have two little Sprees and two quads we take out for the other super- intendents to ride. Out there in the horse arena there’s a lot of ground to cover,” she says, knowingly.
“That’s my two-weeks vacation,” Mansford says of her stay at the fair. How- ever, she’s hardly lounging around. Each day, “I start at 6:30 or so in the morning and work until 9 or 10 at night,” she reports. Mansford says
someone recently asked her how many fair-related hours she puts in each year and she couldn’t help but reply, “You’ve got to be crazy asking me how many hours. I don’t know. I don’t keep track!”
During the fair, El Rita’s husband Gary stays home to hold down the fort, but he sees lots of his wife-and the fairgrounds-during their separation. “I’m always call- ing him saying, ‘Gary could you bring this out?’ or ‘Gary, could you go pick that up?’ ” she admits with a chuckle.
Though it’s a ton of work, El Rita Mansford looks forward to the fair every summer. “You see all your old friends. I’ve met so many nice people over the years,” she reflects. The volunteer describes her motivation for doing all she does quite sim- ply: “I love doing that kind of thing. ... It’s fun, just fun.”
According to Fair Man- ager Tom Musser, “There’s a tremendous number of people that make this fair happen,” including many, like Mansford, “who take their vacations and all to work at the fair.” Getting to know so many dedicated, thoughtful folks “is one of the fun parts of me working this fair,” he shares.