The Darke County Fair Takes Another Step Towards Inclusivity

Tonya Clark, Marla Werner, and Kathleen Ditmer with the new adult changing table

The Darke County Fairboard has been working with the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities to make the Fair more inclusive.

Thanks to the work of Tonya Clark, Superintendent of Darke DD, Marla Werner, Senior Fairboard Treasurer, and Kathleen Ditmer, 4-H Advisor, Darke DD was able to purchase an adult changing table to be used at the Darke County Fair.

“We wanted to make the Fair as inclusive as possible,” Clark said.”It’s for adults or anybody with personal care needs or needs assistance with toileting efforts that can’t be performed in a handicapped stall.”

This new table is all hydraulic. The table can move up and down, and the arms along the sides can adjust. This makes it as easy as possible for anyone to use the changing table.

This changing table will be located in the Red Cross Building on the north side of the Grandstand. It will be there for all nine days of the Fair.

“We used local taxpayer dollars to help pay for the table and give back to the community,” Clark said. “We were able to purchase the table and work with the Fairboard to locate a space to accommodate people. So anytime they are at the Fair, they have an opportunity to have a changing facility or a restroom facility just like everybody else.”

Darke DD will house the table at their building when it is not used at the Fair. They have a changing room in their facility where it can be placed and used. They hope to be able to loan it out to different events and festivals and to use it at the Fair from now on.

“We are actually hoping to talk not only with Tonya but possibly two other counties to maybe purchase a trailer that would have handicapped accessible toilets with ramps and an adult changing table,” Ditmer said. “It is a big goal, but it’s definitely a need.”

Ditmer went on to mention how public restrooms are something that a lot of people take for granted.

“You go someplace in public and need to use the restroom, you have one; not everyone has had that,” Ditmer said.”It impedes some people coming to the Fair because they know they don’t have access to something like this.”

The goal and hope is to have something permanent that can be housed at the fairgrounds all year round and used for all events there. That goal may not be so far away with the current state budget bill.

“Changing tables are a part of the current state budget bill that was passed, and it’s going to be added to the building code, so any new construction that is built will now require an adult changing table like they require a baby changing station,” Clark said. “We are going to see more and more of it as time goes on, but in the meantime, we wanted to make sure we could accommodate that.

“We also hope to work with the fair board if they are building a new building that has restrooms in it; maybe we can make that part of the construction process and have a permanent adult changing station in that building.”

Getting this new changing table is very exciting. It is a big step toward making the fair more inclusive for everyone.

Marla Werner shared how she understands the need for something like this and part of the reason why she worked hard to help get this table.

“My dad was in a wheelchair, so I understand the challenges,” Werner said. “I don’t think people truly understand the challenge until they have been faced with something like that. I think they empathize with people, but they don’t truly understand. My dad was injured and in a chair for years, so I always knew the challenges of taking him anywhere.”

Not only are Darke DD and the Senior Fairboard excited about the new chair, but so is the Jr. Fairboard.

The Jr. Fairboard has been advocating for more inclusivity in the Fair, not only with the new, changing table but along with their Hearts of Darke Show. The Hearts of Darke Show pairs a Jr. Fairboard member with a person with disabilities to show an animal.

“I will give the Jr Fairboard Kids a big shoutout because I think it is great that they took on the initiative of the Hearts of Darke Show,” said Clark.

Seeing a new adult changing table for the Fair is very exciting. Darke DD and the Darke County Fairboard are taking significant steps forward in making the Darke County Fair inclusive for everyone.