Shane Merritt finds joy in serving his community. “If you want a happy, healthy community, you’ve got to be willing to help others. That’s what it’s all about,” he says. Whether volunteering as a firefighter, helping his friends with house projects, or lending a hand backstage at the community theater, Shane brings contagious positivity and energy to any task. With one year at the County under his toolbelt, he’s already spreading his can-do attitude and leaving an impression on the Fair and the grounds.
What does the Assistant Fairgrounds Manager do?
"Well, it's a slew of awesome variety. Anything related to the grounds of the Fairgrounds is fair game. I work with our events planner to figure out what kind of programming we're doing, then I split off and maintain the grounds. I repair equipment and buildings, I help set up events, I lead the fairgrounds crew in the month leading up to the Fair, and I basically make sure everything is ready to welcome the public."
What is is like working on the Fair?
"It's a lot of fun and a lot of work. We have to work together as a team, and I'm not above doing the lowest task. I don't expect anyone to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. I'll clean toilets and move garbage cans if that's what our team is missing.
Last year we had people on our team who hadn’t used power tools before. I’m all about showing and teaching others so they can learn and feel confident in their own abilities. These are life skills they can carry beyond the fairgrounds. I also take pride in helping people in the community service program who come to the fairgrounds. I work with them to make sure their community service hours are fulfilled and that they also get to do meaningful work.
It's all worth it when the Fair goes well, and people mention how good the grounds look and feel."
What do you enjoy about working for the County?
“Working for the County in general has been great. I’ve got great benefits and I enjoy the work. The maintenance I do if for the benefit of everyone – people who rent the fairgrounds for parties or events, people who attend the County Fair, and those who just enjoy the parks and grounds on the weekends and evenings. My upkeep of the fairgrounds is for the benefit of everyone and that’s been satisfying for me. I feel happier just helping people with their needs and keeping this place running well.”
What brought you to San Juan Island?
“I’ve lived here since 2004. My love brought me to the islands. I followed her back to Friday Harbor and got a job at the glass shop where I worked for 20 years. Our family now has three boys. I just kept my head on a swivel for other opportunities and was eventually granted the opportunity to work for the County last year.”
What do you do for fun?
“I like to go kayaking, spend time with my kids and family, and I’m really into video games like Rocket League, Fortnight, and Diablo. I’m also pretty involved with the Community Theater. You may have seen me on the stage a few times (Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical and Gaston in Beauty and the Beast) or caught a glimpse of me backstage.”
What do you enjoy about living in the islands?
“I enjoy the scenery and the calmness. We love the small town vibe – that’s why we’re here. I like looking up towards Bailer Hill on a foggy day, with the sun setting behind it. Or just driving along Wold and watching the clouds hug Mt. Dallas. Or! When you’re on Orcas at the top of Mount Constitution and get to see everything – it’s the best.”
This profile is part of a series spotlighting San Juan County employees, the work they do, and the difference they make. Follow along each month to meet the staff responsible for making the Islands a wonderful place to live, work, and play.