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The man behind the curtain

Thomas C. "Bud" Walsh has a lot to be proud of.
For starters, he serves as current president of the New River Valley Fair, which, for the past 56 years, has drawn thousands of people to the 48 acres known as the NRV Fairgrounds for the annual event.
On average, about 3,000 people flocked to the fairgrounds each night for last year’s fair.
In addition, this past January, Walsh was named "Business Executive of the Year" by the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.
However, despite those accomplishments, he said one of the things he is most proud of is the fact that so many volunteers give of their time to make the NRV Fair happen each year, without expecting anything in return.
On the back of this year’s NRV fair brochure is a photo in memory of Mrs. Grover "Bonnie" Boothe, who passed away last October at the age of 87.
Walsh said Boothe was an example of someone who volunteered for many years with the fair, and "never received a penny for her endeavors."
He also noted that she was the last of the original fair directors to pass away, so with her death, he said "we lost an icon," and added, "it’s people like that who brought the fair back," speaking of the generation of fair directors who reorganized the fair in the 1950s.
Walsh said he is also proud of the fact that the NRV Fair has all but one of the same civic organizations—such as the Ruritan and Lion’s clubs— still serving concessions at the fair after all these years.
He said those types of organizations generate their money from selling concessions at the fair, and that money feeds into benevolent projects organized to help the community, such as the Lion’s Club’s project of providing free eyeglasses for citizens who need them.
He added that money raised through concessions also helped pay for construction of the Lion’s Club building in Dublin.
Along with NRV Fair volunteers, Walsh commented that the vendors who come back year after year to work at the fair are "hard-working people." He said he thinks they are often misrepresented, but from his experience, he could vouch for their good work ethic.
Over the years, Walsh has seen many country musicians perform at the NRV Fair, then continue on in the path to stardom, including Toby Keith, who has performed at the fair twice, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs and a male performer who, when he saw the first time, asked, "Who is that little feller?" only to find out that it was Kenny Chesney.
Speaking of those past fair performers, Walsh said, "we have a little saying around here— if you want to make it ‘big time,’ you have to come through Dublin, Virginia."
Walsh also said he was surprised that they were able to book Marie Osmond to perform at the fair more than a decade ago. He recollected her having a nanny with her the whole time, and said that when she did an interview with Channel 10, she had to make sure she looked perfect before stepping in front of the camera.
While Walsh has been involved with the NRV Fair for about 25 years, this is not his first career.
For 30 years, he owned his own contracting business and said he didn’t become involved with the fair until he volunteered to collect tickets. Before then, he attended Virginia Tech for four years, graduating with a degree in engineering.
He was able to attend college thanks to the GI Bill, as he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He said his military service took him as far away as Cuba and the Caribbean, and even the Arctic for a few experimental missions.
Before joining the military, Walsh had worked in a shipyard and was a graduate of the old Dublin High School. Coincidentally, he grew up in the area just across from the NRV fairgrounds, where he now spends so much of his time.

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The man behind the curtain

Thomas C. "Bud" Walsh has a lot to be proud of.
For starters, he serves as current president of the New River Valley Fair, which, for the past 56 years, has drawn thousands of people to the 48 acres known as the NRV Fairgrounds for the annual event.
On average, about 3,000 people flocked to the fairgrounds each night for last year’s fair.
In addition, this past January, Walsh was named "Business Executive of the Year" by the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.
However, despite those accomplishments, he said one of the things he is most proud of is the fact that so many volunteers give of their time to make the NRV Fair happen each year, without expecting anything in return.
On the back of this year’s NRV fair brochure is a photo in memory of Mrs. Grover "Bonnie" Boothe, who passed away last October at the age of 87.
Walsh said Boothe was an example of someone who volunteered for many years with the fair, and "never received a penny for her endeavors."
He also noted that she was the last of the original fair directors to pass away, so with her death, he said "we lost an icon," and added, "it’s people like that who brought the fair back," speaking of the generation of fair directors who reorganized the fair in the 1950s.
Walsh said he is also proud of the fact that the NRV Fair has all but one of the same civic organizations—such as the Ruritan and Lion’s clubs— still serving concessions at the fair after all these years.
He said those types of organizations generate their money from selling concessions at the fair, and that money feeds into benevolent projects organized to help the community, such as the Lion’s Club’s project of providing free eyeglasses for citizens who need them.
He added that money raised through concessions also helped pay for construction of the Lion’s Club building in Dublin.
Along with NRV Fair volunteers, Walsh commented that the vendors who come back year after year to work at the fair are "hard-working people." He said he thinks they are often misrepresented, but from his experience, he could vouch for their good work ethic.
Over the years, Walsh has seen many country musicians perform at the NRV Fair, then continue on in the path to stardom, including Toby Keith, who has performed at the fair twice, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs and a male performer who, when he saw the first time, asked, "Who is that little feller?" only to find out that it was Kenny Chesney.
Speaking of those past fair performers, Walsh said, "we have a little saying around here— if you want to make it ‘big time,’ you have to come through Dublin, Virginia."
Walsh also said he was surprised that they were able to book Marie Osmond to perform at the fair more than a decade ago. He recollected her having a nanny with her the whole time, and said that when she did an interview with Channel 10, she had to make sure she looked perfect before stepping in front of the camera.
While Walsh has been involved with the NRV Fair for about 25 years, this is not his first career.
For 30 years, he owned his own contracting business and said he didn’t become involved with the fair until he volunteered to collect tickets. Before then, he attended Virginia Tech for four years, graduating with a degree in engineering.
He was able to attend college thanks to the GI Bill, as he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He said his military service took him as far away as Cuba and the Caribbean, and even the Arctic for a few experimental missions.
Before joining the military, Walsh had worked in a shipyard and was a graduate of the old Dublin High School. Coincidentally, he grew up in the area just across from the NRV fairgrounds, where he now spends so much of his time.

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