Eshleman honored as ‘outstanding ambassador’

By on September 19, 2012

In the spring of 1981 the plans for the first Denver Fair were already in progress, and a young Penn State student in her second year of college was dating a young man from Denver who was involved in the original concept for a Denver Fair.

Well, a person will do lots of crazy things when they are in love…and so began Denise Eshleman’s involvement in the Denver Fair. Her active role in the fair since the original idea began — over 31 years ago — has led her to become the recipient of the Outstanding Fair Ambassador Award. The award was presented the evening of Sept. 13 on the stage by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s special advisor to the governor, Barron L. Hetherington.

Denise was very surprised to receive the award.

"I wasn’t expecting it," she said. "There are a lot of other volunteers that need recognition."

Denise has served as publicity chairperson, a member of the board of directors of the fair committee for over 12 years, exhibits chairperson, fair office assistant and fair premium booklet chairperson. She sold the advertising for the first books and was critical in this addition to the growing fair.

Her current position is premium administrator. She has held this position for the last 16 years. When the Denver fair could not afford to purchase software to process the premiums, Denise wrote her own program.

In all her years with the fair, what brings the most joy to the award recipient is seeing everybody having a good time.

"I like seeing everybody bring their exhibits in and the smile on the kids’ faces," she said.

During the week of the fair, Denise can be found in the fair office from early morning until late night overseeing the preparation of premium checks, assisting the treasurer and making sure the office runs efficiently. In fact, she logs well over 100 hours throughout the week.

During the last 10 years, Denise has been stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis; some days even walking is difficult, but she continues to serve in the fair office for long grueling days.

"The sun boosts everybody’s spirits," said Denise, glad that the weather was pleasant after it’s absence last year. "It was kind of weird that we were all sitting at home (last year) with nothing to do but watch the rain."

In 1984 the young couple in love married, and the fall of that same year Denise’s husband, Randy, became president of the Denver Fair and served for the next 25 years in that position. So, Denise’s involvement in the fairs became even more intense as she supported her husband in this role. She was very active in attending zone meetings and Pennsylvania State Fair conventions and she and her family visited many local fairs — one could say her household lived for fairs. More HONORS, page A15

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