Meet James Webber, board member of the Sandwich Fair and maintenance guy, who treats the Sandwich, Illinois fairgrounds like his own backyard. Listen to Jim talk about how there’s always something that needs to be done, especially before the Sandwich Fair that has been running for over 125 years.
My name is James Webber. I'm a board member of the Sandwich Fair, and I run the fairgrounds [in Sandwich, Illinois]. I'm the maintenance guy [for the fairgrounds] and I'm here all year, especially for the week of the fair. The [Sandwich Fair] is big, it’s our bread and butter. This area is [where we keep] our livestock. [This is] the beef barn [where we keep the] hogs, sheep, goats, dairy and beef cattle. We [also] have the horse arena where [various shows happen]. From this end of the fairgrounds our main entrance is over there. We get about 125,000 people a year [attending] the fair. We're getting all set up here. It takes about a week for the folks out here to get set for the fair. They bed their cattle and their animals, and there's a lot of preparation.
My dad ran [and maintained] the fairgrounds for several years. I took it over when he passed away. [Just about] everybody I know in the town of Sandwich works here [during the fair]. At nine o'clock we officially start. We raise the flag and sing the National Anthem. The high school band [plays] and [all the visitors come] in. It's a big fan fair. This is our 126th fair, and it's the longest continually running fair in Illinois.
There's never a time when I don't have something to do. I treat [these fairgrounds as if it is] my [own] backyard. If I see a tree that needs to be trimmed, or I think [a branch is] too low and someone may hit their head [I will trim it]. The tractors need to be greased, oiled and kept up too. [There is] always something to do.
Here is my shop. This is the heartbeat of the fairgrounds right here. [If there is] anything you need done at the fair, you have to come here, [and I will help you] get it done. I try to keep [my area] neat, but during the week of the fair I can’t keep it neat. This is where everybody meets. The board members come in here [if anything needs to be fixed] because everyone knows where the maintenance shop is [on the fairgrounds]. If anything breaks, they come [to the shop], and I take care of them. We do a pretty good [job of maintaining the fairgrounds].
This [feels like] home [to me]. I feel comfortable here, and I know where everything is. It may look like a mess, but I know where [everything is located]. All my friends and board members [comes here to] visit and have a cup of coffee. We talk about how the fair is going, and what we [may need to adjust for] next year. I like it here.