Bob Highfield, 85, served as Sheep Department Director for the last time at this year’s Ohio State Fair.
He said he has been “running the sheep department for the last 25 years, and 20 years before that I was the assistant superintendent.” He said he decided to retire from the position because “I’m getting old.”
Tim Barnes, who served as Highfield’s assistant for the last few years, will take over his position.
Highfield, of Fayette County, said he became involved with the sheep barn because “the kids were getting to the age of 4-H” and he decided sheep would be good for them. His five children are now grown, and Highfield now has five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. His wife, Linda, said, “He’s seen three generations show in the sheep barn.”
Through his children’s involvement with 4-H, Highfield became involved with the Fayette County Shepherd’s Club and ended up meeting Ralph Grimshaw, who was head of the Ohio State Fair Sheep Barn at the time.
“He invited me to join him as assistant superintendent 45 years ago,” Highfield said, with a laugh. Later, Grimshaw “passed away and I inherited the job,” said Highfield.
Highfield said he liked “working with the exhibitors,” adding “they were a very good group to work with.” Linda said she and her husband also enjoyed making many friends through their involvement with the sheep barn, and added that he “had a very good staff.”
In addition to working with the sheep at the fair, the Highfields raised a flock of between 25 and 30 ewes for many years. They showed these sheep all over the country as well as at the state fair. Highfield said they sold the flock five years ago when he turned 80. Although they no longer have sheep to show, Linda said, “We still go to all the sheep shows because we’ve made such good friends.”
One thing Highfield is particularly proud of during his time as superintendent is that, “A few years ago they completely redid the sheep barn,” according to Linda.
“It’s probably the best sheep barn in the country,” he said. When it came to the design of the new barn, Linda said Highfield “had a hand in how they did it.”
Although Highfield will no longer have an official role at the fair, Linda said, “We’ve made so many friends and I’m sure we’ll still go back to visit.”
Reach Megan Neary at 614-440-9124 or @MeganNeary2