A new leader should be in place to guide the future of the Delaware County Fair before the 71st running of the Little Brown Jug in September.

A new leader should be in place to guide the future of the Delaware County Fair before the 71st running of the Little Brown Jug in September.

Fair officials began advertising to find a new general manager shortly before the end of 2015.

General Manager Bill Lowe, 69, said last week he's ready to hand over the keys to the fairgrounds to a younger successor.

"I'm going to be 70 years old (this year), so the future's not me," he said.

After 18 years as manager, Lowe left the fair in 2001. He returned on an interim basis in 2013 when the fair board failed that spring to find a qualified candidate to run the annual event.

"I had a 90-day contract, and that was over a thousand days ago," Lowe said.

Lowe said fair officials hope to have a new manager in place within the next two to three months. He said he will be available to help train his eventual replacement ahead of the fair, which kicks off Sept. 17.

The search for a new manager will overlap with an effort to support a lodging-tax increase that would benefit the fair.

Delaware County commissioners voted 2-0 in November to put a five-year, 3 percent bed-tax increase on the March 15 ballot. If voters approve the tax hike, bills at county hotels will be 3 percent higher, and the fair will receive an estimated $190,000 per year that can be put only toward repairs.

Lowe said the timing of the search with the ballot campaign is a coincidence, but added the toughest part of his successor's job likely will be finding ways to fix existing facilities.

"The biggest challenge that we face is aging buildings and infrastructure," he said.

Eighteen of the buildings on the Pennsylvania Avenue site were constructed before 1960 and seven date back to the late 1930s.

Although the city of Delaware and Delaware County donated materials and labor for a major waterline-replacement project last year, Lowe said crumbling roads and outdated facilities remain a big problem at the fairgrounds.

"This hotel bed-tax issue will help that most certainly," he said. "It will provide much-needed funds that can't be spent on anything else."

Lowe said the ideal candidate to succeed him as manager will have experience in a variety of fields -- from business to event planning. He said no matter what the candidate's background, he or she will have to learn by doing, because running the fair presents a number of distinctive challenges.

"We're going to have to get lucky and find somebody who's had quite a bit of different experiences they can bring to the job," he said.