Ritchie County Voters Pass New Fairgrounds Board of Directors

Written by Tyler Hawn WDTV/Channel 5

It's what some are calling a milestone in Ritchie County history. After the fight for the Pennsboro Speedway went to court, the people of Ritchie County spoke up when they hit the polls yesterday.

After a long and hard-fought battle, and they now have a new board of directors to rebuild the county's fairgrounds, and Pennsboro Speedway.

You wouldn't know it as of Saturday, but if you would have walked by Pennsboro's Women's Club yesterday, you would have seen hundreds of people waiting for their turn to vote.

People from all over town and Ritchie County lined up to cast their vote to elect a new board to manage the Pennsboro Speedway and Ritchie County fairgrounds.

If you talk to anyone around town, they said this has been a long time coming.

"I moved here 30 years ago, and they used to have races once a month. There was a circus, and all kinds of events. Over the past 20 years, certain people have gotten a hold of it, and have limited everything, so it really hasn't been good for the community," said Raymond Tillwenger, a Pennsboro resident.

It's been what some officials are calling a very long and hard-fought battle, that some say has went on for decades. The speedway used to be a horse track back in the 1920's, which some say attracted more than 20,000 people to the fairgrounds.

After their founder, George Allen, passed away, everything with the speedway went downhill fast. Soon, the main event that took place at the speedway was the annual Summer Bash hosted by the Ellenboro Fire Department.

Everyone else couldn't afford to lease the property, but that's when officials did some research, and took it to court.

"They refused to let the county fair return to the fairgrounds, and they had to move it to the 4-H site. The for sale sign really was what finally triggered Ritchie County to put a stop to what they were doing. You can't sell something that's non-profit," said Ashley Ness, of the Ritchie County Fair Association Board of Directors.

Ness said while the past 3 1/2 years have been a long one, this is something that he couldn't have done without the people of Ritchie County, and yesterday's vote proved what the people want.

"They need to be commended. Ritchie County really stood up last night, and overwhelmingly spoke up and said this was their fairgrounds," said Ness.

Ness's next goal is to get the people of Ritchie County back to enjoying the fairgrounds and speedway.


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