John Wagner, a member of the Sandwich Fair board of directors, was one of six individuals recognized with the Friend of Illinois County Fairs volunteer award at the 104th annual convention of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs.
Wagner has been involved with the fair for 65 years. He began working for the Sandwich Fair in 1948, at age 7, stocking shelves and helping his father wherever he was needed. He began showing livestock at the fair at the same time.
In the late 1960s, Wagner became a superintendent, and he joined the fair board in 1972. He assisted his father, the superintendent of the horticultural building, and took over the superintendent position when his father passed away.
Today, Wagner oversees almost all of the east end of the 182-acre Sandwich Fairgrounds, including the Home Arts Building, First Aid, Collections, photography, arts and crafts displays, Antique Machinery, and the Horticultural Building.
Wagner believes in maintaining a family atmosphere, and his family believes in volunteer service to the fair and to their community. His wife, children and grandchildren all work at the fair. Wagner relies on teams of married couples to keep the operations stable and dependable.
Wagner has been active throughout his career with the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs, zone meetings and national conventions. He is always ready to share his knowledge, volunteer his time and is known as a friend of the fair industry far and wide. He has a passion for antiques and was featured on “American Pickers.”