Memorial Trot to headline ‘Community Night at the Races’

By Tyler Flora - [email protected]

The inaugural Charles and Ronald Rivers Memorial Trot will take place on Wednesday, July 20 at the McDonald’s Grandstand on the Fayette County Fairgrounds. This will be the final race of the “Community Night at the Races” event, which begins at 5 p.m., and will feature the largest purse in the state of Ohio for Signature Series harness racing.

Brent Rivers, the son of Charles and the nephew of Ronald, spoke about how this memorial trot came to be.

“Dan Drake, he asked me about featuring or sponsoring a race. I said, ‘Yeah,’ then we all got our heads together and decided on an amount. I thought it would be good to honor Dad and Ronnie with everything they’ve been involved in, in this county for decades. I just thought it would be a good tribute to them.”

Fair Board President Bob Schwartz spoke about this special evening.

“It’s going to be in conjunction with ‘Community Night at the Races,’ which will be Wednesday evening, post times five o’clock. It basically is a joint venture between the Fayette County Ag Society, Fayette County Travel and Tourism, and the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce.”

He continued, “Essentially, what we do is we get various business entities to sponsor a race at the fair on Wednesday night, and then with the donations they’d go out and purchase prizes. After each race, there is a drawing for a TV, kayak or Yeti products, whatever the girls decide to purchase. The business has the opportunity to talk about their business if they like, they get the mic. And then the other thing, they get to ride in the starting gate. This is the car that starts the horses. You sit up there and see them, and it is really neat.”

Schwartz spoke about the purse for this event.

“The feature events for Wednesday night are the McKinley Kirk Pace and the Charles and Ronald Rivers Trot. Those races start out with a purse of $2,500, but with the generosity of the Rivers’, the trot’s going for $12,500. This is the largest purse in the state for the Signature Series. They kind of put this together and through their generosity, it’s going to be a great race.”

For those who may not know of Charles and Ronald Rivers, Brent gave some background information on them.

“They moved up here from Kentucky in 1943 and started the farm. They took a loan out for $5,000 and bought the 100 acres where our main farm is out Deer Creek and just started farming. In 1963, they started the fertilizer company. It wasn’t Mid-Ohio then, but in the mid-1970s, they named it Mid-Ohio Chemical.”

Rivers said that at one point, they had the largest dry fertilizer warehouse east of the Mississippi River.

Rivers continued, “They had a huge wholesale business and of course their retail business grew to over 40 plants in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Of course, we kept farming. I stayed on the farm, and my brother went into the business. I’d like to think I helped out.”

Charles and Ronald sold the company in 1994. After they sold the company, the farms really took off, according to Rivers.

“The farm was always the backbone of the family.” he said. “We expanded at a fairly quick rate, to where we now farm 12,000 acres.”

“Dad and Ronnie always liked supporting the community, whether it be 4-H or other events going on.” Rivers said. “I think they would be happy about this.”

Schwartz thanked Rivers for his generosity.

“As far as the Fair Board and the Signature Series, we couldn’t be happier with your involvement. We certainly hope that it’s pleasurable for you and we can do it down the road.”

The 2022 Fayette County Fair will take place from July 18-23 at the Fayette County Fairgrounds.

By Tyler Flora

[email protected]