No rides at this year’s Ox Roast

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(Posted July 30, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

The West Jefferson Community Association was unable to secure a ride company for this year’s Ox Roast, so they are asking the community to help fill the entertainment gap.

For the last several months, association leaders kept in touch with the ride company they used the past several years, checking on their operational status through changes in pandemic restrictions. By the time restrictions lifted, the family-owned company had split into two separate companies.

“One family was able to open up, but the one we were dealing with could not,” said Jeff Pfeil, association president.

Organizers searched for other ride companies in Ohio, as well as out of state, with no luck. All the companies still in business have engagements for Labor Day weekend, Pfeil said.

The 2021 Ox Roast will still go on. There will still be watermelon, hotdog, pie, and ice cream eating contests, a kiddie pedal pull, car show and live music, but the association needs the community’s help to round out the entertainment options.

On July 27, the group posted a plea on their Facebook page: “We are hoping that any organization or group, such as 4-H, church, school or any other type of group can come up with one hour of entertainment, contest, game or educational type of event to make this the best Ox Roast possible.” They then listed suggestions, such as water balloon games, cornhole, karaoke, and meet-and-greets and listed available time slots over the festival’s three days, Sept. 4-6.

The post generated dozens of suggestions, from a talent show, a baking contest and wildlife/nature exhibits to inflatables, water slides and bingo.

“There were a lot of good ideas, but unfortunately a lot of them cost money to bring in. This year, we’re looking for something that people could donate their time and energy to in order to help everybody out,” Pfeil said.

Because the Ox Roast did not take place last year, the association is short on funds. One way the festival generates money is through rides. The way the ride contract works, the association does not pay the ride company to come to the festival. Instead, they get a percentage of the company’s sales, typically 20 percent to 25 percent.

In addition to the loss of revenue, the association still needs to pay its year-round bills. The group owns the Ox Roast grounds and, therefore, is responsible for costs associated with things like utilities, insurance, and mowing.

“We can’t afford to go out this year and pay entertainers to come in and do things for us,” Pfeil said.

“It’s expensive to put on the Ox Roast–entertainment, the stage, buying the meat for the Ox Roast sandwiches. It probably costs us close to $20,000 just to put the Ox Roast on,” he continued.

The association is starting this year with $9,000 in their coffers. Usually, they start with $17,000 to $18,000, Pfeil said.

The group is thankful for the many sponsors who always step up, and they welcome donations big and small.

Anyone who would like to make a monetary donation or volunteer their group to fill a time slot with some form of entertainment can contact Jeff Pfeil at jpfeil@sbcglobal.net or Carol Beachy at West Jefferson Hardware, (614) 879-9036, or carolbeachy@att.net.

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