148th straight fair adds donkey races, baby contest
The famed half-mile, crushed limestone track at the Harrison County Fairgrounds has been the stage for everything from harness races and watermelon-eating contests to chicken-dance contests, automobile thrill shows and even Dolly Parton.
The 148th consecutive annual Harrison County Fair, which kicks off Sunday and runs through Aug. 4 in conjunction with the 4-H Fair (July 27 through Aug. 1), will feature something never tried before: donkey races.
The races, with jockeys made up of average Joes (or Janes) who ante up $50 and are at least 16 years of age, will take to the track next Tuesday, July 31, at 8 p.m. Participants should wear long pants (not shorts) and, according to Donkey Ball LLC, which put on the wildly popular Relay For Life donkey basketball game at Corydon Central High School earlier this year, outlandish costumes are encouraged.
The jockeys will lead their donkeys to the start line and must ride ‘ or make a determined effort to ride ‘ their donkeys around the race course.
Riders must sign in and attend an instructional meeting 45 minutes prior to the advertised starting time. No spurs or whips are allowed by riders.
Another new feature to this edition is the inaugural Harrison County Fair Baby Contest, which will be held Friday, Aug. 3, at 6 p.m.
All contestants will receive a bib, and a trophy will be awarded for first prize in each division (0-5 months, 6-11 months, 12-17 months, 18-24 months). Birth certificate is required for registration; no exceptions will be made.
Children’s parents must reside in Harrison County. Children will be judged on site, by out-of-county judges, on apparent good health, charm and personality. All children must register with superintendent Lynne Thomas between 5 and 5:30 p.m. the day prior to the contest. Parents must have children at the 4-H Building for judging at 6 p.m. There is a dress code of a T-shirt and diaper.
For more information, contact Thomas at 969-3150.
The rest of the fair highlights feature the tried-and-true events folks have come to love.
It all kicks off Sunday night at 7 p.m. with a parade through downtown Corydon and culminating with the fair queen contest at 8 in front of the fairgrounds grandstand. Clayton and Friends will perform on the grandstand at 6 that evening as well. The annual Little Miss/Master contest will follow at 7.
As of Monday, nine queen candidates had registered. They are:
Vicki Branham, 17, of Corydon. The daughter of James and BB Branham, she will be a senior at Corydon Central. Her sponsor is Edward Jones Investments.
Brittany Flener, 16, of Corydon. The daughter of William and Tina Flener, she will be a junior at Corydon Central. Her sponsor is J.D. Whitman.
Paula Hubler, 17, of Elizabeth. The daughter of Matt and Stephanie Hubler, she will be a senior at Providence High School. Her sponsor is Cockadoodle Days Festival.
Amanda Jones, 16, of New Salisbury. The daughter of Becky Jones, she will be a junior at North Harrison High School. Her sponsor is Eddie Gilstrap Motors of Salem.
Brittany Kopp, 17, of Corydon. The daughter of Gerald Jr. and Teresa Kopp, she will be a senior at South Central Junior-Senior High School. Her sponsors are Uhl’s Feed and Small Engines and Gerdon Auto Sales.
Jessica Mathes, 17, of Corydon. The daughter of Joe Mathes, she will be a senior at Corydon Central. Her sponsor is Tyson Foods of Corydon.
Cassandra Dale Mathews, 20, of Corydon. The daughter of Paul and Gina Mathews, she will be a junior at Indiana University Southeast. She is sponsored by Butt Drugs.
Ashley Uhl, 20, of Corydon. The daughter of Todd and Lisa Uhl, she will be a sophomore at the University of Evansville. Her sponsor is Tic Tac & Sew 4-H Club.
Maria Louise Wolfe, 18, of Corydon. The daughter of Sam and Jean Wolfe, she will be a freshman at Indiana University Southeast. Her sponsor is Michele L. Reichel, State Farm Agent.
On Monday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m., is the mini-car demolition derby, with a 20-car cage match for big cars before the feature race.
Kali Rose, a country and gospel artist who is also a professional model when she’s not belting out tunes, performs at 7 p.m. Tuesday before the donkey races at 8.
A karaoke contest will be held Wednesday evening at 7.
Thursday features the big car demolition derby and mini-car rollover contest at 7:30 and local musical talents performing on the Midway Stage beginning at 6 p.m.
A big crowd favorite ‘ the truck pull ‘ takes place Friday night at 7. At 8, a chicken-, cattle- and hog-calling contest will be held at the Midway Stage and Hypnosis By Randy will be presented in the showbarn.
Saturday night’s entertainment include the tractor pull at 6, Hypnosis By Randy at 7:30 (in the 4-H Building) and a musical performance by Evil Engine No. 9 on the Midway Stage.
The nightly cash giveaways also return: $1,500 Monday through Thursday, $2,000 on Friday and $3,000 on Saturday.
For the culinary type, the biggest vegetable/fruit contest is Monday at 7 p.m., a homemade peach pie contest is Thursday at 1 p.m. at the Homecomers Hall (pies will be auctioned off after judging at about 2:30) and Taste of Harrison County is also Thursday between 6 and 8 p.m.
The annual harness races feature 1 p.m. post times both Thursday (four races) and Friday (five races). The feature race is Friday’s fifth, which is an ISA Elite 3-year-old colt trot with a purse of $6,000.
There are three FFA pedal tractor pulls, all at 4 p.m., on Sunday, Monday and Thursday.
Old-timers day is Thursday, with free parking and afternoon grandstand for seniors.
Tickets are $7, which covers parking and admission to the fair, all rides, and an entry for the cash giveaway.
Senior citizens can save a few bucks by paying $15 for an all-week pass, which includes admission and parking to the fair but does not include grandstand or rides.
Joint committee looks to fair(grounds) future
Threats of a split of a century-old relationship between the Harrison County 4-H’ers and the Harrison County Fair put a damper on last year’s event, but a Joint Committee ‘ made up of the Harrison County Agricultural Society (fair board), the 4-H Council, the county Extension Office and Homemakers, and the Harrison County Convention and Visitors Bureau ‘ has since cooled the fires.
‘The biggest thing we’ve accomplished is communication,’ said Jim Cavins, chairman for the committee. ‘More people know what’s happening on all sides. We’re getting together and talking more. In the past, one group thought they knew what another group was doing and another group thought they knew what the other group was doing and in the end, no one really knew anything about either group because the lines of communication weren’t there like they are now.
‘I think we’re all on the same page with this new committee.’
Cavins said there will be an economic feasibility study coming up for a five-year and 10-year plan for the county fairgrounds, not just for use of the 4-H or for the county fair but other times as well.
‘We would like to get input from the whole county as to what the fairgrounds should be for the county,’ he said, adding that there’s no limit to what can be done with the use of a little imagination. ‘Maybe there’s something that people think needs to be refurbished, or one building that needs to be replaced, or something else. We want to hear people’s ideas and then go from there to see what can actually be done.’
Citizens of the county should expect an open forum sometime either later this summer or in early fall, perhaps with meetings both in the northern and southern ends of the county.
‘(The fairgrounds) is good for the county to have and use, and we want to utilize that area. For instance, with the big dog show in June, that brings a lot of people to the county and brings in a lot of money. There are other things that can come in that could probably bring in economic benefits as well,’ Cavins said. ‘We want people to dream it, and then we’ll see if it’s feasible.’