The Fair and The Fire Preventin’ Bear: Brought to you by Bob Dawson, TriAd Video Producer
For the last 4 years, I have volunteered my voice for a good cause – a cause involving a 14-foot bear who wears blue jeans and talks to kids about preventing forest fires. In 2008, my good friend Paul Hammock convinced me to volunteer in the Ohio Department of Natural Resources‘ ‘Smokey Bear’ exhibit at the Ohio State Fair. I thought I would be interacting with people, encouraging them to talk to the giant, animatronic bear. But Paul quickly informed me that I would be the VOICE of Smokey, directly talking with kids and their parents about the importance of fire prevention.
When I first saw the exhibit, I assumed I would have to climb inside the enormous bear and hopefully not suffer from heat exhaustion. But then I learned the ‘trick’. A tiny, air-conditioned room sits to the right of Smokey. Inside is a microphone/ headphone system and a small, two-way mirror that allows me to see outside without anyone seeing me. Volunteers dressed in official shirts ask fair visitors if they’d like to talk to Smokey and parents are encouraged to whisper their kids’ names to the volunteers, who then discreetly show me the names through my window. As the kids gaze up at Smokey, I welcome them to the Fair and greet them by name. The looks on their faces are priceless.
Smokey Bear has been a fixture at the Ohio State Fair for more than 30 years. I am so honored to help deliver his message of fire prevention and education, and plan to do so for many years to come. I will leave you with the official ‘Smokey Bear Pledge’. Please raise your right hand and repeat after me.
“I will never… Never never… Ever never… Never EVER… Play with matches… Lighters… Or any kind of fire.”
See you next year, Smokey.
TriAd Video Producer Bob Dawson annually lends his voice to ‘Smokey Bear’ at the Ohio State Fair.
Bob voicing ‘Smokey’ from the secret room.