H. Mitchell “Mickey” Day, 55, is a three-time president of the Howard County Fair Association, which will hold its 71st fair Aug. 6-13. He first served from 1999 to 2002 and is the only person to hold the office more than once.
We talked with Day about some of the other notable aspects of his life, from his nickname’s ballpark origins to his 4-H roots.
1. He didn’t grow up on a farm.
Though he’s lived in West Friendship his entire life, his parents didn’t purchase their 60-acre beef farm until Day was 22. But he raised cows and pigs on his grandmother’s three acres nearby as a youth, and he belonged to local 4-H clubs. He coached the 4-H livestock judging team during college, a position that took him around the country.
2. He works closely with young people but doesn’t have any children.
Day and his wife, Susan, regard the young people they work with as their kids. Day is vice president and general manager for his family’s Farm and Home Service and has served as chief of the West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department for 20 years. Susan is a school band director.
3. He is musically inclined.
He was a percussionist at Glenelg High School under recently retired band director Barry Enzman, and he played the organ at St. James United Methodist Church. He owns an upright piano and still plays country music for fun.
4. He drove a VW bug for a short time.
He bought a Volkswagen Beetle for $400 and used it to commute to the University of Maryland, College Park, during his senior year. After graduating in 1983 with a degree in animal science, he sold it — for $400.
5. He helped add beer and wine to the fair last year.
Day wants to keep the fair fresh, so he presided over the board’s decision to allow a beer and wine garden for the first time, focusing on a brewery and winery as local agricultural operations.
“We don’t shake things up too much,” he said. “But you shouldn’t be able to walk the grounds with a blindfold on and find the same things in the same place year after year.”
6. He is an instructor for the University of Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.
He also teaches at the county’s public safety training center. If he hadn’t gone into the family business, he probably would have been a career firefighter, he says.
7. He drove the West Friendship fire engine to a blaze at his alma mater.
He doesn’t remember a lot about the fire at Glenelg High in the early 1980s, but emotions ran high when the call came in.
8. He loves T-bone steaks.
When he raised steers during his 4-H years, he called his farmette “Mickey’s T-Bones.” Nowadays, his wife does most of the grilling.
9. He gives speeches without notes.
Being in 4-H taught him to love public speaking. He delivered eulogies before thousands for two West Friendship volunteer firemen who lost their lives in the line of duty, one as a police officer in 2007 and one as a paid paramedic in 2015. He had notes but brushed them aside to speak from the heart.
10. He was nicknamed for New York Yankees centerfielder Mickey Mantle.
Day’s father, Calvin, is a huge Yankees fan. When Mantle hit a grand slam on the day his son was born, he and wife Eileen nicknamed him “Mickey.” Mantle graciously agreed to pose for photos with his namesake after batting practice at Memorial Stadium circa 1970 — twice. The second round came after the film processing company “misplaced” the first shots.