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Harrison County Fair sports timeless age

Harrison County Fair sports timeless age
Harrison County Fair sports timeless age
A harness racer practices on the half-mile Harrison County Fairgrounds track early yesterday. (Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor)

The Corydon Democrat continues its new feature for this year, ‘Top 26 of 2006,’ that takes a look at 26 people, places or things that our readers suggested make Harrison County a great place to live or work. The remaining 15 stories will be published before the end of the year.
For one week each year, usually a scorcher as temperatures go, the Harrison County Fairgrounds is a bustling place, full of Harrison Countians and some outsiders. The event is the Harrison County Fair, put on by the Agricultural Society. Now in its 147th year, it is the oldest, continuous county fair in the state.
The county’s first fair was held Sept. 11 through 14 in 1860, after a group of residents met in January of that year to organize the Harrison County Agricultural Society. Property for the fairgrounds, located on the south side of Corydon, was purchased in March 1860 from Benjamin Aydelott.
While the fairground is used for other events throughout the year, such as the American Kennel Club-sanctioned dog shows and the Cockadoodle Days festival in September, it’s the traditional fair that most people associate with the property.
Steve Haggard, who has served as chair of the fair board all but two of the past 16 years, has said it takes a lot of community involvement, the major part of which is done by volunteers, to put on the week-long fair.
While the annual event has stayed somewhat the same since its inception, Haggard, who’s attended the last 47 fairs, said it has changed. Musical entertainment used to be the big draws, he said; now it’s smoke shows: demolition derbies and truck and tractor pulls.
Other popular fair activities are the annual parade, held the first day of the fair, along with the queen contest and Little Miss and Master contest, the Midway and harness racing. Then there are displays by 4-H, FFA and Homemaker members, and merchant booths, many with giveaways.
And then there are the animals: pigs, goats, cows, sheep, rabbits and a few horses. (This year, the poultry was brought in a couple of weeks prior to the fair for a one-day show.) Fair goers can stroll through the barns and look at the livestock, and they can take in one of the many animal shows, most of which take place during the day in the show barn.
Harness racing remains a popular attraction at the county fair. Bertha W, a mare that won a race in 1904 then dropped dead in front of the grandstand, is buried in the north area of the centerfield.
This year’s Harrison County Fair started Sunday but there’s plenty to see before it concludes Saturday. Grandstand entertainment scheduled the rest of the week is a karaoke contest today (Wednesday), Demolition Derby and mini-car rollover tomorrow, truck pull on Friday and the tractor pull Saturday.
Gate admission, which is $7, begins at 4 p.m. today and Saturday, and at noon tomorrow and Friday.