Hardester’s Named Grand Marshalls for Lake County Fair
Giving Back to the Community
LAKEPORT, Calif. (August 19, 2016) – The Lake County Fair Foundation elected Middletown natives Grant and Ross Hardester as the Grand Marshals for the 2016 County Fair. The Hardesters will lead the fair’s 5:30 PM kick-off parade and ribbon cutting ceremony at 6:00 PM on September 1, 2016 beginning the “Party with the Animals.”
The Hardester’s roots go back five generation in Lake County with Ross and Grant’s parents being raised in Middletown. John Irwin and Reed Hardester started a grocery business in Middletown in 1943. The original name was the “Corner Store”. The Hardester family bought out the Irwin’s in the 1970’s. Currently, Hardester’s Markets and Hardware have three locations in Southern Lake County – Middletown, Cobb, and Hidden Valley. The stores employ 155 people from our community.
Hardester’s Markets have a long-standing relationship with the Lake County Fair. Since the 1960’s, the Hardesters have purchased animals every year from the annual Junior Livestock Auction, as well as supported the fair by selling the fair’s pre-sale tickets to patrons at all their locations.
Grant has been a member of the Middletown Merchants Association, serving in various leadership roles and on the committee that established the Middletown Area Plan. Ross volunteers with the Junior and High School rodeo for the past three years, the Boys Scouts of America, and coaches Little League. Both Grant and Ross helped residents that suffered in last year’s Valley Fire and continue supporting residents impacted by the recent fire.
The Valley Fire of 2015 not only changed lives, it changed the business perspective of the Hardesters. In the early hours of the Valley Fire, PG&E delivered a generator providing power to ensure that the Middletown location could serve as a sanctuary to those remaining in the community, fire personnel, and news media. The store was the cornerstone of our community during the devastating fire. The Hardesters exemplified the best in people from our community. Phones rang constantly as the store became an information center for those that wanted to know how they could help. Because of the Hardesters, the word community became synonymous with kindness, compassion, and hope. The Hardesters found a positive – our community pulls together like family.
“We are honored to have them lead us this year at the annual Lake County Fair’s parade”, said CEO Debbie Strickler. The fair kicks off on Thursday, September 1st, with a parade up Main Street, followed at 6:00 PM by the opening ceremonies at the main entrance. The fair ends September 4th. The Fair is one of Lake County’s favorite summertime events enjoyed by more than 35,000 people each year, featuring a variety of free entertainment, food, exhibits, carnival, and livestock shows. Major fair sponsors include Robinson Rancheria, Lake County Tribal Health, St Helena Hospital, Sutter Lakeside Hospital, and Twin Pine.