In every way, fair was ‘a little bit better’
The 144th consecutive Harrison County Fair was ‘a little bit better’ than last year, said Jack Windell, secretary-treasurer of the Harrison County Agricultural Society, which puts on the fair each year in Corydon.
Windell said it’s hard to track exact attendance figures because visitors now pay one price ($7) at the gate for entrance, grandstand shows and Midway rides, and 4-Hers and merchants get week-long passes, so many people are coming and going all week. However, he estimated that between 31,000 and 32,000 people came to the fair, topping last year’s estimate of 30,000.
Each night in the grandstand, the crowd was ‘a little bit better’ than last year, said Windell and fair board president Steve Haggard. The biggest crowd massed Thursday night for the ‘big-car’ Demolition Derby, which featured a 14-year-old driver, Malakhi Martin of Ramsey, and a roll-over contest, which featured a 65-year-old driver, Mealy Brown of Fordsville, Ky.
The crowd was so big Thursday night (Windell estimated it between 6,000 and 8,000) that cars packed the infield of the fairgrounds, the limestone trotting track, and even spread a couple of blocks outside the fairgrounds.
Windell said the fair’s board of directors was pleased with the crowds because the board had heard that attendance at other county fairs was down this year.
Interstate Amusements, the company that provides the Midway rides, was also pleased, Windell said, because this was one of the few weeks since leaving their New Smyrna Beach, Fla., home in January that it didn’t rain all week.
Haggard said the truck-pull track was lengthened this year. There were three sanctioned classes, and 90 trucks showed up for the pull on Friday night before a thunder and lightning storm moved into Harrison County a few hours later.
On Saturday night, fair officials moved the big and super tractors to the front of the program, instead of keeping them until the wee hours of the night, which the crowd seemed to appreciate, Haggard said. Eighty-five tractors made 130 pulls, fair board member Carl (Buck) Mathes reported.
Haggard said the 4-H Livestock Auction continues to have a great following of business people. Although the kids brought in a large number of animals to be sold (including 103 head of cattle) and the economy is down, the bidding Friday night was vigorous and lengthy. Quicksilver Resources Inc. and Eastern Livestock led the buying this year.
The fair board tried something else new: an electric scooter giveaway for kids 14 and under. Several hundred kids signed up, and Mandi Meadows, 13, of Elizabeth, was the winner.
The fair board and Interstate Amusements gave away $11,000 through the week at nightly drawings. The winners are: Monday night: Richard D. Cochran, $1,000; Tuesday, Georgia South, $1,000; Wednesday, Cheryl Schoen, $1,000; Thursday, Sherley Johnson, $1,000; Friday, James Newton, $2,000, and Saturday, Jennifer Waits, $5,000
Odds and ends: On a personal note, Buck Mathes, the master of the Demo Derbies and the truck and tractor pulls, usually buys himself a new pair of overalls for the county fair. Perhaps in keeping with the ‘little bit better’ theme, this year he bought two pair.