MIAMI COUNTY — Bethel Township resident John Rowley III swiftly opens and closes the scale gates as children herd their pigs in and out of the weigh-in for an upcoming hog show.
Rowley, also known as Uncle Bo, was named the 2019 Miami County Fair Supporter of the Year by the Miami County Agricultural Society for his dedication to the fair and service to the youth all year round.
Rowley, who retired after 41 years in 2017 from Dayton Children’s Hospital from the maintenance and engineering department, said he looks forward to helping out at the fair each year.
“I’ve been a very blessed man. Giving back will never hurt a soul,” Rowley said. Rowley said it was Paul Blackburn, a former fair board member, who got him involved with helping on the fairgrounds more than 15 years ago.
“Now it’s children’s children that are now showing goats and showing cattle,” he said. “That’s been really neat to see. The kids you used to help now have their kids involved.”
According to the fair board’s nomination, “You will find him at the fairgrounds no matter what is going on, doing the ‘little things’ so that parents can devote their time to their children. This may be at weigh in, 4-H BBQ or any other event or activity that is taking place. He feels families are stronger when parents and children work together and if he can ‘free up’ the parents by doing the background jobs, he will do it. He hears we need fences painted, barns cleaned, he will be the first to show up and start working. You never have to ask for his help — he is just there willing to do what is needed.”
Rowley shared how the long hours in the barns and helping around the fair is worth it when a 4-H member will come up to him outside the fair gates to thank him for helping them in and out of the show ring.
“It’s all about the kids,” he said.
Giving back to the community doesn’t end once the fair week is over. Each winter, Rowley dons a red suit and visits nursing homes to spread Christmas cheer to residents, often racking up hundreds of miles on his “sleigh” through Christmas Eve.
“Anytime you can put a smile on someone’s face, it’s good for the soul,” he said.
Reach Melanie Yingst at firstname.lastname@example.org
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