‘SOMETHING I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO’
New Fair Manager’s Ag Roots Run Deep
By SHELBY MERTENS
Daily News- Record 12/28/18
HARRISONBURG — Rebecca Holloway grew up on a farm in Grottoes and started showing market steers and hogs at the Rockingham County Fair at the age of 11.
Her family has a long history at the fair, and she won several awards for livestock in her youth. She looked forward to the weeklong event off U. S. 11 south of Harrisonburg each August.
“When I was a kid, the fair was like our vacation,” Holloway said.
As an adult, Holloway continued her involvement as a volunteer and a member of the fair’s board of directors for six years. Her own children also show livestock at the fair.
After 15 years of teaching agriculture classes in Rockingham County Public Schools, Holloway, 38, will be the next general manager of the Rockingham County Fair Association starting in January.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do; I just didn’t know when I would do it,” she said.
Holloway is replacing Pam Edwards, who stepped down in September after a two-year tenure.
A committee led the interview process, and the fair board voted on the candidates around the end of October. Jeff Germroth, the fair association’s president, said Holloway was chosen because of her background with the fair and agricultural experience. “We’re very excited about having her. She brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the job,” Germroth said. “She is very passionate about the fair and the success of the fairgrounds.” Holloway was active in the FFA chapter at Spotswood High School, where she graduated in 1998.
From 1998 to 1999, Holloway was the Virginia FFA officer, which gave her the opportunity to travel around the state, as well as nationally and internationally, to promote agricultural education.
“After doing that, I knew that I wanted to be in the classroom teaching students about the opportunities that agriculture had for them and how agriculture affects our lives, even if they’re not farmers or come from a farm,” she said. She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from Virginia Tech in 2002 and more recently received a master’s degree in educational leadership from James Madison University.
She began teaching agriculture classes at her alma mater, Spotswood, in 2003 and moved to East Rockingham High School when the school opened in 2010. She’s been at East Rock for the last eight years. Holloway teaches a range of subjects, from horticulture to intro to animal systems to general agriculture.
Eric Fitzgerald, the director of career and technical education for Rockingham County Public Schools and Holloway’s supervisor for the past five years, has known of her since she was a high school student.
Fitzgerald, an ag teacher at Turner Ashby High School at the time, said Holloway was a standout FFA student in the area.
“Rebecca was an exceptional agricultural education student and FFA member. When she went to Virginia Tech to become an ag teacher, she was an excellent student there,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s one of the top teachers we have.”
Fitzgerald said Holloway has been a strong coach for the competitive livestock and poultry teams, and several of her students have won public speaking awards in leadership contests.
He said Holloway’s relationship-building skills will benefit the fair, as well as her already es-u “Rebecca was an exceptional agricultural education student and FFA member. When she went to Virginia Tech to become an ag teacher, she was an excellent student there,” Fitzgerald said. “She’s one of the top teachers we have.”
Fitzgerald said Holl o way has been a strong coach for the competitive livestock and poultry teams, and several of her students have won public speaking awards in leadership contests.
He said Holloway’s relationship-building skills will benefit the fair, as well as her already established.
We're going to miss her in her agriculture education role in Rockingham County, but we think she'll be a good bridge between the school system and the fair.
It'll be mutually beneficial.
Attendance has also become an area of concern. This year, turnout dropped below 80,000 for the first time since 2011. In 2015, the fair had a record-breaking 92,289 people in attendance.
“We’ve talked about some of those issues, whether it was the acts we got, not getting the tickets out on time, the sales, not enough advertisement.
It rained, and you can’t control the weather,” she said. “Some of that stuff we’re trying to be proactive about and trying to rework.” Germroth said that while increasing attendance is always on the radar, he hopes Holloway will imp rove the quality of the Rockingham County Fair experience, as well as the quality of events hosted on the fairgrounds during the other 51 weeks of the year.
“Part of the fair’s goal is to be part of the community and support the area, and I think she’ll help improve that experience,” he said.
Although the school system will be at a loss when Holloway leaves her teaching job, Fitzgerald said her new gig is positive for the schools.
“We’re going to miss her in her agriculture education role in Rockingham County, but we think she’ll be a good bridge between the school system and the fair,” Fitzgerald said. “It’ll be mutually beneficial.”