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Rockingham County Fair community remembers Charlie Whetzel

The late Charlie Whetzel who was an icon of the Rockingham County Fair.
The late Charlie Whetzel who was an icon of the Rockingham County Fair.(WHSV)
Published: May. 21, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County Fair lost one of its most legendary contributors this week with the passing of Charlie Whetzel. Those who knew him say everything he did for the fair will not be forgotten.

“Charlie was a leader, he was a genuine person that you felt comfortable with, he was a kind and humble man,” said Jeff Ishee, former general manager of the Rockingham County Fair.

Whetzel was a major player in the Rockingham County Fair for over 30 years and his passion for the event was unmatched.

“If he knew you he was gonna ask you to either volunteer at the fair, make a donation, or sponsor something. He was gonna get you involved in the fair somehow,” said Rebecca Holloway, the fair’s current general manager. “In fact, a lot of our volunteers say the reason why they’re here volunteering to this day is because Charlie Whetzel brought them to the fair.”

Whetzel’s legacy lives on in the fairgrounds many buildings. His fundraising ability was the stuff of legend, and many say the fair would have never grown to its current size without him.

“He was involved in almost every building, if not every building here on this grounds. Either helping build it, raising money, or finding sponsorship, he was involved,” said Holloway.

Whetzel always exceeded his fundraising goals. If the fair needed $200,000, he would raise $300,000. “He was that influential and people trusted Charlie Whetzel. They would write checks and says Charlie how much do you need?” said Ishee.

Rebecca Holloway knew Whetzel nearly her entire life and says he’ll be greatly missed by the fair community.

“I don’t know if we could put in words what he meant to the fair and I mean that wholeheartedly. His involvement was bigger than anything we could put a number to or compare to anybody else,” she said.

The fair honored Whetzel last year by naming its main road in his honor. He was 80 years old at the time of his passing on Wednesday.

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