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Volunteers Jim Crittenden and Ron Marston were recently recognized for giving above and beyond at the Crook County Fairgrounds

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Ron Marston, left, and Jim Crittenden standing next to a refurbished livestock panel for the Crook County Fairgrounds. Both of the volunteers have a background in fabrication and have done a number of large projects on the fairgrounds property, including gates, signs, stairs, tables and bull chutes.

Heroes take on many forms.

Casey Daly and the Crook County Fairgrounds recognized two of their volunteers at the monthly Crook County Board meeting last Wednesday. The volunteers, Jim Critteneden and Ron Marston, are heroes in their own right and have put in many hours of their time and efforts at the fairgrounds.

"Typically, we recognize a volunteer each year at our annual barbecue after fair," explained Daly of the tradition of recognizing volunteers. "This year we weren't able to do that."

Daly introduced Crittenden and Marston at the meeting and presented a portfolio of pictures to the Crook County Court that showcased many of the projects that the two men had worked on together to enhance the Crook County Fairgrounds.

"They show up every day at the fairgrounds," pointed out Daly to the board. "We couldn't do without them."

He went on to note that they had more than 3,300 hours between them in the past year. Daly also presented a buckle—another fairgrounds tradition that Daly started six years ago—that is given to one volunteer each year.

"I really appreciate it," indicated Crittenden of the gesture.

Marston added at the meeting that he and Crittenden are most appreciative of the support that they receive from Daly on a day-to-day basis. Marston has eight years with the fairgrounds as a volunteer, and Crittenden has been serving as a volunteer for four years. Marston was presented with a buckle approximately two years ago.

A drive around the fairgrounds property gives a bird's eye view of the many projects that this duo has accomplished in the past couple of years alone. Among the plethora of projects are reclaimed and recycled materials from the fairground's property, all of which have been made into useful objects such as livestock panels, signs, and rot iron steps and rails—to name just a few.

"They have done quite a lot," said Daly.

Upon approaching the entrance of the Crook County Fairgrounds from Lynn Boulevard, a new metal sign adorns the top of the gate. It replaces an older, worn out sign that had been there for several years.

"It's all metal," said Crittenden. He pointed to the top of the sign, where there were cutouts of bucking horses and bucking bulls, which were done by the FFA students at Crook County High School.

"They contributed the animals up there," he added of the cutouts at the top of the sign.

Other projects around the property include fences and pens for livestock during fair and rebuilt bucking chutes from Harney County. Marston pointed to a group of tables made from large wire spools, and other picnic tables from scrap wood and scrap metal. The two men refer to themselves as "scavengers," because they pride themselves in recycling materials whenever possible.

Crittenden spent 20 years as a self-employed contractor to install domestic water systems. He spent the past 15 years working in metal fabrication. Marston has a fascinating career history – with a variety of skills and experience, which all lend to his creativity and resourcefulness.

"I always stayed in welding my whole life, pretty much off and on," said Crittenden.

He added that he retired and needed something constructive to do.

"So, I came here, because I got bored doing nothing and came down to the fairgrounds and asked if they needed any volunteers," he noted. "That's how it all started. If it had not been fun and rewarding, I sure wouldn't be doing it."

He indicated that he feels that he is doing something for the community that he lives in. Marston and Crittenden both feel that it is rewarding and gives a sense of accomplishment to see their creativity and hard work benefitting the fairgrounds. During the pandemic, they have been catching up on projects and repairs. The recently built a large sprinkler system from spare parts.

"People have been very appreciative of what we are doing," concluded Crittenden.

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