Clint Flory was born and raised in Douglas County and was active in 4-H, like his father and grandfather. That meant he spent a lot of time at the Douglas County Fairgrounds in east Lawrence, where he attended 4-H meetings, competitions and the county fair.
He also met his wife, Josie, at the fairgrounds, and now their children – ages 11, 13 and 14 – are active in 4-H as well. “We’ve all grown up here,” he said.
So, when he was hired by the Douglas County Maintenance Department in February 2017 as the Fairgrounds Coordinator, it was “the perfect fit,” he said. It combined his 17 years of experience in building maintenance at Walmart and PacSun with his 4-H roots.
While a big part of Flory’s job is overseeing grounds and maintenance at the fairgrounds, he also oversees grounds work at the Douglas County Courthouse, Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, Juvenile Detention Center, Douglas County Correctional Facility and Broken Arrow Park. Maintenance includes: mowing, snow removal, painting, remodeling, landscaping, and repairing and improving buildings. Flory has five full-time employees and one or two seasonal workers. “We try to do as much as we can in-house,” he said.
The Douglas County Fairgrounds, 21st and Harper streets, includes: K-State Research Extension - Douglas County, three meeting halls (Building 21, Flory Meeting Hall and Dreher Building), two livestock arenas (Open Pavilion and Community Indoor Arena), an Outdoor Event Arena and three picnic shelters.
While the site is most commonly known for hosting the annual Douglas County Fair in late July/early August, it’s busy year-round. It hosts a wide variety of events, including: dog and cat shows, birthday parties, family reunions, MS Bike Ride, swap meets, camps, training exercises for the Sheriff’s Office, and even Mixed Martial Arts fights. “It’s very diverse,” Flory said, of the fairground events. “We just recently had barrel racing in the Community Building one day and then a graduation party the next day.”
Soon, weather permitting, Flory and his staff will begin working on a new walking and biking trail that will loop around the 40-acre fairground site, along with a teaching garden and about 20 fruit trees.
David Sparkes, Director of Buildings, Grounds and Maintenance for Douglas County, said Flory has been a “huge asset” for the department, especially because of his background in 4-H. “He’s able to understand what people need, what the county can do for them, and then work with them.” He’s typically the first contact for those who use the fairgrounds, showing them around and making sure their needs are met.
Flory said he enjoys the diversity of his work and the people who come to visit. “There are people from 17 states down there at the Open Pavilion right now,” he said, referring to the American Aberdeen Association’s Junior National Show and Competition. “I constantly hear how great the fairgrounds are. They can’t believe this is a county fairgrounds.”
That praise comes on the heels of a nine-year, $7.9 million fairground renovation project that was completed in 2017. The project included demolition of old buildings and construction of new ones, including the Open Pavilion and Flory Meeting Hall. Flory Meeting Hall was completed in 2016 and named in honor of former County Commissioner Jim Flory (Clint Flory’s grandpa’s cousin), who was an advocate for the renovations.
Clint Flory said use of the Open Pavilion is increasing because “word is beginning to spread" that it’s a great building.
What does Clint Flory enjoy doing when he’s not at work? His second job: farming. “I just love cattle and being outdoors,” he said. “It’s one of most rewarding and most unforgiving occupations. You don’t do it if you don’t love it, that’s for sure.”
His children are following in his footsteps. They will be showing cattle and goats at this year’s Douglas County Fair (July 29-Aug. 3) along with photography, cooking and other projects. “They're looking forward to it. It’s a fun time for the family,” he said.