The Darke County Fairgrounds' race track is no stranger to Jim Buchy, who has done so much to enhance horse racing here and around Ohio while he was a state representative. (Linda Moody photo)

Buchy: A strong supporter of harness horse racing

GREENVILLE—Greenville’s Jim Buchy, throughout his years as state representative, had made contributions legislation-wise in horse racing, which is popular among Great Darke County Fair-goers.

“To my knowledge there has been harness racing every year during my lifetime, which started in 1940, except in 1949 when there was no fair because of polio,” said Buchy, who was last year’s grand marshal for the Darke County Fair Parade of Champions. “During my 24 years as state representative, I supported fairs and harness racing in countless ways.”

He said there are two standout contributions in which he participated.

“About 10 years ago, there was a horseracing bill working its way through the legislature when the racinos were just getting started,” he explained. “With the support of the governor, president of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and others in the legislature, I introduced an amendment that required the racinos to have minimum days of live horse racing each year, with a percentage of the revenue from the gambling going to the horsemen.”

This amendment, he said, was adopted into the legislation that passed into law.

“The result is that harness racing has almost tripled its economic impact to the state,”  remarked Buchy, a  graduate of Greenville High School and of Wittenberg University. “Ohio has 65 county fairs that conduct harness racing, and added to the four racinos that have harness tracks, Ohio is now the number one state in the USA in standardbred foals produced and it contributes almost three billion dollars to our agricultural economy. The guaranteed income to the industry from the racinos has allowed all purses at the tracks and fairs to grow substantially; thus, providing more competitive, qualitative racing.  In short, the amendment that I offered has resulted in unprecedented growth of harness racing in Ohio. The Darke County Fair has the second best fair racing in Ohio, only trailing the Delaware County Fair, which is the home of the Little Brown Jug, a race for three-year-old pacers. I consider the Jug to be the number one race in the sport.”

The second contribution that he participated in was in 2020.

“It was when we were in the pandemic shutdown, and all county fairs were in jeopardy of being canceled after the Ohio State Fair was called off,” he stated. “Governor DeWine appointed me to chair a 22-member task force to give him recommendations on what to do. The result of our deliberations and recommendations was that fairs were held with 4-H, FFA and Junior Fairs held. I personally asked the governor to allow harness racing even though there were no grandstand events allowed at fairs in 2020. Another task force recommended that harness racing be held, and the governor accepted.”
Buchy said he, personally, has been a harness racing fan since he was a teenager in the 1950s.

“I attend the races each year at the fair, and I usually go see harness racing at other fairs,” he said.

The Buchy family has been involved with the Great Darke County Fair for five generations since the late 1800s, and he is so proud to represent a family, like so many others who have devoted so much time to make the Great Darke County Fair the best family-oriented agriculture fair that there is.
The son of the late George and Amba (Armbruster) Buchy, he went to work for the Chas. G. Buchy Packing Company, which was founded by his great-grandfather, George Buchy, after high school.

George opened the packing company in 1878, then Jim’s grandfather, Charles, became the owner in 1901 and served as president until 1963 when his own father, George, became president.

“He served in that capacity until 1977, when I became president until the company was purchased by SYSCO Foods in 2012.”
Jim served a total of 12, two-year terms with perfect attendance the entire time as a state representative,” he said. He was then deputy director and subsequently assistant director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture from January 2001 until July 2004.

“Then, I became the Midwest Policy director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) for two years before returning to Greenville in late 2006,” he said. “I  am currently the senior adviser to the Batchelder Company, a public policy firm  in Columbus. I still have an office there.”
Buchy, who will mark his 82nd birthday on Sept. 24, appears to never forget a face and generally remembers most of the people’s names he’s met over the years.

“When I turned 16 and was driving, Dad sent me on the road selling,” Jim recalled. “Business is my background.”

Early on and everywhere he went, he decided he would learn the names of the people he met, and had a special knack in doing that.

“When you meet nice people, you don’t want to forget them,” he said.

Jim Buchy, former Ohio state representative, takes time to reflect on his personal and political life as the Great Darke County Fair will soon be opening for another season. He loves his family, Darke County, horse racing and America. (Linda Moody) .
Darke County Now Staff - Linda Moody - Staff Writer

Linda Moody / Staff Writer

I am a Darke County native living in the Ansonia area with my son. I have been in journalism 50+ years and enjoy what I do.

Contact Darke County Now Media Correspondent Linda Moody @ lmoody@darkecountynow.com or 937-337-1955.

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