MIAMI COUNTY — On the grounds of the Miami County Fair, there’s a special gathering place underneath a shade tree between the goat and swine barns.
Visitors can sit on the wooden benches to rest and watch busy 4-H kids and families shuffle from barn to barn.
Miami East FFA and Miami County Junior Fair Board member Jarrett Winner, 15, of Piqua, built each of the memorial benches in honor of those who have passed and who are particularly missed during fair week.
Winner most recently built a bench for friend Hunter Sharp, who passed away at the age of 20. Sharp was active in the Miami East FFA and showed many grand and reserve champion dairy beef feeder projects at the Miami County Fair. Winner also built a bench for former 4-H member and county fair supporter Catherine Bensman, who passed away last spring from lung cancer at the age of 45.
Sharp’s memorial bench aptly faces the cattle barns where he showed dairy beef feeders and was often in the sale of champions for his projects. Bensman’s bench faces the goat and lamb barn area where her son Adam continues to show livestock at the county, state and national level.
Winner said it was simply something he wanted to do to add to the nostalgic air of the fair.
“It’s just something to honor them,” he said.
The bench also features Sharp’s favorite 4-H cattle with their photos etched into the wood in his honor.
“You may be gone from our sight, but you are never gone from our hearts” is etched into the wood back of the bench.
Winner also built benches in memory of Bobby Wintrow and Jerry Jackson, long time supporters of the Miami County Fair, and his late grandfather Don Gostomsky, also a fair supporter. Another bench encompasses any and all who are missed during the family-centric fair with “Angels among us.”
Winner plans to add more benches in the future to the memorial garden to continue to remember those who attend the county fair in spirit.
He exhibits market barrows as his 4-H project. He also earned Champion Shop project with the restoration of a trailer, given to him by his late grandfather. The trailer once hauled his mother’s livestock to the fair. Winner restored the equipment, which now serves as a mower trailer.
Winner is the son of Jackie and Doug Winner of Piqua.