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The county fair was ‘fairly good’ and can be better

Another Harrison County Fair has been recorded in the history books. Fair officials aren’t touting it as one of the best ever, but they’re fairly satisfied with the outcome.
Consider the positives:
The weather was hot and humid ‘ what else would you expect in Southern Indiana this time of year? ‘ but at least it didn’t rain, which can hurt attendance and reduce revenue. (We desperately need rain, but as fair board president Steve Haggard says, ‘Not during fair week.’)
4-Hers displayed hundreds of projects that took countless hours to complete, giving them a real sense of accomplishment, especially those who earned grand champion ribbons and advanced to the Indiana State Fair. They also brought their livestock, housed in barns with other animals that were shown in open classes.
Homecomers Hall was packed with handmade and home-grown items from Homemaker club members as well as the general public.
Grandstand favorites, especially the Demo Derbies, packed in large crowds, while the annual tractor and truck pulls had just slightly smaller attendance.
Food vendors reported a good week. Anything cold was quite popular, and lines at the fish, pork producers and cattlemen’s association booths were long most nights.
Children and the young-at-heart could ride everything in the Midway as many times as they wanted after paying the one-price admission fee to the fair.
Numerous volunteers could be seen, along with many unseen working behind the scenes. They pitched in to do whatever it took to get things done and have the fair run as smoothly as possible.
Does all this mean we should sit back and be content with ‘a pretty good fair,’ as described by Haggard, year after year?
Of course not. There’s always room for improvements! (If you read Live Wire, you know not everyone has nice things to say about the fair.)
Many complaints are about the $7 admission fee, which includes parking, general seating for the nightly grandstand entertainment and unlimited rides in the Midway. To compound the problem, fair-goers said there weren’t as many rides this year and some were out of operation for a period.
I’m an advocate for a better way to collect receipts, but it may have more to do with the county fair I attended as a 4-Her. There’s no parking fee or gate admission at the Hendricks County 4-H Fair in Danville. You pay for each ride ‘ except for two nights during the week, Tuesday and Thursday ‘ and then you ‘pay one price to ride all night.’ (For the record, those rides open at 5 p.m. daily, including Saturday. There are two exceptions: the first night of the fair, the rides open at 6. On Friday, from noon to 4 p.m., ‘Kids Day at the Carnival,’ it’s pay one price during that time.)
Businesses are daily sponsors of the week-long event, and there is free entertainment most nights while some events require a nominal admission price. That way, patrons only pay for what they do above and beyond looking at exhibits, livestock and gathering give-aways in the merchants building.
Another complaint we hear is about the appearance of the fairgrounds.
Ours is the oldest continuous fair in the state. No. 146 just finished on Aug. 6. It takes a lot of work ‘ and money ‘ to keep something that old in good shape.
It can be done. The Hendricks County 4-H Fair just celebrated its 50th year last month. It now has a major building project. A new 4-H and Conference Complex is being built a couple miles east of the present site and will be the location of all future fairs beginning next summer.
I’m not promoting building new fairgrounds here, but additional enhancements can be made. Last year’s fair board president Carl Whitman and his directors installed some badly needed grandstand seats, and several buildings have been improved recently, the swine barn in particular.
This is where you come in. Support the Harrison County Fair. You can do it in many ways: Attend the fair, donate money, provide physical labor, volunteer your time, and offer helpful suggestions. Keep in mind the 4-H motto: ‘To make the best better.’
With more people involved and additional funds, we can make sure that the oldest continuous county fair in the state will be around for many more years.