By Sally Voth -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- Some people fish or golf on weekends. Tom Eshelman goes to the fair.
The businessman and long-time Warren County Fair volunteer started his new job as the Shenandoah County Fair Association General Manager on Monday.
He takes over from previous manager, Dean Morgan, who resigned last fall after two county fairs.
Eshelman owns The Auction Gallery at the Middle of Main in Front Royal, which will continue to be run by his wife, Terri, and employees.
He's been with the Warren County Fair Association for 14 years, and is a former vice president of that association.
"I've attended probably about 15 fairs throughout Virginia," Eshelman, 51, said. "They cater to different populations. Shenandoah County has a very large fair. It's one of the largest, most-respected fairs in the state of Virginia. They know how to put on a fair. They don't really need someone to tell them that."
What Eshelman, a Warren County High School grad, hopes to do is get more civic groups and organizations to use the fairgrounds throughout the year.
"Just in the short time I've been here, the biggest opportunity that exists would be on improving the grounds, trying to make them a little more attractive and appealing," he said. "I would love to see some more landscaping.
"I'm hoping to create some opportunities to partner with other civic organizations to create events here, to help them with fundraisers, to involve the community here with more activities here on the grounds. I would love to see a First Night Woodstock."
Enhancing the fair experience for attendees is also on his agenda.
"I have a passion for the fair business, being a volunteer," Eshelman said. "There's about seven or eight of us over in Warren County. We're out there every Saturday, 35, 40 Saturdays a year.
"Some people go and golf every weekend. Some people go and fish every weekend. I go to the fair and work."
The father of two equated being hired to do fair work to an avid fisherman or golfer being offered pay to do their hobby.
"It's exciting to be employed at your passion," Eshelman said.
Even working full-time for the Shenandoah County Fair Association isn't enough to cool his ardor.
"I'm still going to continue to volunteer out at Warren County," Eshelman said. "I'm still going to be out there on Saturdays mowing grass, digging ditches, selling tickets. I'm excited to be here and carry on the passion."
Fair Association President Terry Kibler was pleased with the selection committee's choice.
"He's hit the ground running," he said.