Boone, board prepare for fair

Published 4:50 am Friday, August 3, 2018

Each October, Washington Parish residents enjoy the annual spectacle that is simply known as “The Fair.” Residents seemingly drop everything else they are doing to spend four days and five nights surrounded by history, agriculture, camping, rodeo, the thrill of carnival rides and enjoying reunion with family and friends. All of this is enhanced with great food, contests, and the displays of various talents by local residents.

Thousands of visitors make their way to Franklinton to enjoy the fair, but what many may not know or realize is that the Fair Association is made up of volunteers. With only one paid employee, it is the combined efforts of over 40 committees and the Executive Board, who work year-round to ensure that visitors will have an awesome time. The committees also ensure that everyone will find something he or she loves about the fair.

The Executive Board consists of five officers, each serving two year terms. The current president is Jacqueline “Jackie” Ryals Boone, former teacher and current principal at Enon Elementary School. She has been a fair volunteer for 35 years and has served at various times on the Nominating Committee, is current Chairman of the Education Building, and is a past Chairman and co-chairman of the Jr. Fine Arts Committee.

Jackie was the 2016 Vice President, is a Roll of Honor and Honor Roll Star, WPF Board Member for Ward VII, and has been honored to attend the annual Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals (LAFF) Convention in Baton Rouge. An artist, she designed the office fair poster in 1989, 1997, and 2016.

The fair is near and dear to the Boone and Ryals families. Boone serves along with her mother, Margaret Ryals, who is a Board Member from Ward IV. In 1981, Jackie’s sister, Amanda Ryals Prud’homme, was crowned fair queen and in 2006 her daughter, Amanda Boone Fowler, was selected as fair queen. Jackie’s husband, Robert Boone, was a longtime agriculture teacher at Varnado High School and spent countless hours in the AG building as well as the livestock barns.

Boone’s favorite fair memory is from her childhood, when her mom made fried chicken for a picnic on parade day, and then she showed animals in the livestock barn with her siblings. Her picnic memories, along with seeing friends and family who attend the parade, contribute to her choosing Wednesday as the best day of the fair.

Boone loves all the events, but the parade has a special place in her heart. When other duties are not pressing, she can be found “Down by the Branch,” relaxing and taking in the musical entertainment while she enjoys a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar from the midway.

As for the future of the fair, Boone would like to get more young people involved in the committees and encourage the incorporation of technology to enhance the fair experience. She believes that in 20 years the fair will still be going strong, due to the loyalty of its volunteers and community.

Look for Boone in a little over two months or so as she oversees the 2018 edition of the Washington Parish Free Fair.