In 2017, I assumed the role of Vice President of the Executive Committee for the Washington Parish Free Fair. I did so with the knowledge that after then President Jackie Boone's two-year term, I would become President of the fair board. The officers who have served the past three years alongside me are Vice-President James Magruder, Secretary Kaye Ladner, Treasurer Ellen Waskom, and Building/Grounds Chairman Donald Folse.
I grew up in a home where the fair was extremely important, and from an early age my parents showed me the value in being a fair volunteer. However, nothing could have prepared me for the challenges the fair officers, board members and committee chairmen have experienced during my tenure as President.
No one could have predicted a global pandemic leading to the cancellation of the 2020 fair. A tornado in March 2021 caused substantial damage to the fairgrounds and Mile Branch Settlement, and just as we were gearing up for this year's fair, Hurricane Ida raked across the parish.
As an employee with Creel Brothers, during my time in office I also traveled to Miami, Puerto Rico and Lake Charles to clear hurricane damage. Luckily for me, the success of the fair does not hinge on the physical presence of the President. It can be likened to a well-oiled machine that runs smoothly thanks to the efforts of so many committed volunteers.
I offer particular thanks to Mike, Jason, and Scott Creel as well as the rest of the Creel Brothers crew who not only volunteer their time and talents to the fair but also for allowing me to take care of fair matters when needed. Also, I especially thank and congratulate 2021 Fair Honoree Donald Folse. Without his great work ethic and dedication to the grounds and buildings, we simply could not have a safe and memorable fair. His is a year-round job that does not end with the last day of the fair. I hope everyone who sees Donald at the fair will offer him a handshake of gratitude and "job well done" as Fair Honoree.
I have been blessed to meet and become friends with so many who have selflessly given their time and energy to making sure that each October this parish has its biggest reunion. I sincerely thank all the fair volunteers no matter how large or small their role may be. Each one of you make the fair the special event it is!
I could not have served in this capacity without the love and support of my wife Tra and son Hal, as well as the encouragement of my parents Ed and Kaye Ladner. Thanks to my church family at Hillcrest Baptist for lifting me up in prayers during the toughest times.
My term of office will be coming to an end in December, and I will once again become simply a fair volunteer. I offer my best wishes and service to incoming President James Magruder. The fair's governing body will be left in capable hands.
It has been my honor to serve. See you at the fair!
Cole Ladner, President
Washington Parish Fair AssociatioN