|By CINDY LADAGE
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Bette Paulson was awarded the Friend of the Illinois County Fair honor by the Illinois Assoc. of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF) during the 96th annual convention that was at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield. The convention is where the IAAF recognizes individuals who are outstanding fair workers, supporters or innovators.
“It takes special volunteers like Bette Paulson to make county fairs what they are today,” said IAAF President Tom Ostermeier. “Paulson has served as secretary of the fair for 45 years.”
Paulson served under four different board presidents Les Carlson, John Ratcliffe, Don Paulson and current president Al Henninger.
“At 82, Paulson has volunteered for the county fair for more than half of her life,” Ostermeier added. “Members like her make a difference at the Boone County Fair and ultimately the Illinois State Fair.”
He emphasized the impact that Paulson has made.
“Just think of how many young people’s lives Bette Paulson has touched keeping the county fair alive and flourishing in Boone county as a gathering place to neighbor each year,” Ostermeier said.
Paulson’s county fair devotion started with her husband, Donald, and their six children, showing livestock and volunteering through the Beaver Valley Grange.
Paulson faced many challenges as a fair board secretary. During her tenure the secretary’s office went from hand writing all the work in pen, to manual typewriters then electric typewriters, to word processors and finally to computers. She spent countless hours of preparing and checking all the details so everything in the administration office ran like a well-oiled machine.
Paulson completed state reports with timely and supreme accuracy. In fact, she would not sign her name on any report if there was a penny missing until that error was corrected. Her standards were high and for that in 2002 the Boone County Fair board unanimously voted her Secretary Emeritus by the Boone County Fair Board.
Her love and devotion to the Boone County Fair Board is shared through four generations of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Three of her children, Rodney and Steve Paulson and Renee O’Dell have been or are on the board or superintendents. During fair week all of her children had jobs from counting ribbons, stringing tags to hauling manure. She still goes to the Boone County Fair each year to watch her family exhibit, to enjoy the fair experience and to see what people who truly love the fair can accomplish.
The Friend of Illinois County Fair Award is sponsored by Jeff Blomsness of North American Midway Entertainment.
The 105 Illinois county fairs culminate with the Illinois State Fair, Aug. 11-20 and the DuQuoin State Fair, Aug. 26-Sept. 9.
This farm news was published in the June 14, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.