Jim Folts of Penn Yan, the general manager of the Yates County Fair, was honored as the Fair Person of the Year by the New York State Show People’s Association Jan. 14. The award, presented at the New York State Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention in Rochester, was a surprise to Folts.

“They got me good there. They told me it was going to be a state award for John (Andersen). I didn’t have a clue,” said Folts. But during the introduction of the award winner, the details about the honoree didn’t fit Andersen, which puzzled Folts.

Folts joins Andersen as the two honorees from Yates County. Andersen, president of the Yates County organization for 49 years, received the award in 1999.

“Very seldom do you see a small fair get it,” Folts says of the honor.

“I was tickled to death,” said Andersen of his own reaction to Folts being honored.

Andersen says naming the Fair Person of the Year is an extensive process. A person is nominated by a member of the Show People’s Association. The honoree is chosen by a 2/3 vote of the 1,400 members of the association.

Continuing a family tradition of service on the Yates County Fair Board, Folts remembers being at the fairgrounds as a young child, when his whole family was involved in the event. He has served on the board since 1985, when he joined his father, Rod, and sister Gail. Rod was a fair director for 40 years, and his mother, Olive, was the fair secretary for many years.

The Yates County Fair was established in 1839. It is held in mid-July each year at 2370 Old Route 14A, Penn Yan.