From writing about fairs to running them and now promoting them internationally, one Frederick County woman has blazed a path for agriculture education and passion for local fairs.
Becky Brashear, of Thurmont, helped run The Great Frederick Fair for 20 years. She will spend 2017 as chair of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. She will travel across the U.S. and abroad promoting the positive effect fairs have on local economies.
Brashear, who is assistant general manager of the Maryland State Fair, grew up in Frederick County and kept her 4-H steer projects at the Frederick Fairgrounds, she said. She and her brother would ride their bikes to the barns to care for the animals each night.
She comes back to the fair each year to watch her grandniece and grandnephew show pigs.
“It still means everything it did to me today as it did as a kid,” Brashear said.
Brashear has been a member of the international association’s board for the past four years. Her peers elected her as second vice chair, and then she moved up automatically to first vice chair and now chair. The theme of her tenure will be “Striking It Rich,” which will emphasize youth scholarships at local and state fairs.
Before that, Brashear worked as an agriculture reporter and editor at The Frederick News-Post when breweries and the nexus of agriculture and entertainment were just starting, she said. It was an exciting time to be in news, she said, as agriculture became more diversified.
She was approached by the Montgomery County Fair to run its public relations and sponsorship because of her reporting, she said. She moved up to the role of executive director before leaving after nearly six years to join The Great Frederick Fair.
She stayed locally for the next 20 years and helped establish the fair’s agricultural education programs with Robert W. Fogle Jr., of Walkersville. Fogle is the agriculture education director for the Maryland State Fair.
Frederick County is a farming county, but many children are five or six generations removed from the farm, she said. Fairs not only help connect kids to food and nutrition, but also to the range of careers in agriculture and the economies agriculture supports.
The Great Frederick Fair has gone on to win many awards for the program. The recognition isn’t the reason why the programs have continued, but the need to connect children to their food sources, she said.
“There are so many educational components that are wrapped around that Fair Day,” Brashear said.
Brashear left to work for the Maryland State Fair in 2014, but The Great Frederick Fair is still “her fair” in the way it is to so many Frederick County residents and generations before.
Brashear will fly to Virginia four days after the new year to start her rounds to fairs and expositions, which will take her from California to the Eastern Seaboard and everywhere in between, she said.
“I’ve been able to go to the next level and still give back to the industry that means so much to me,” Brashear said.