‘Bit of rain’ gives way to fair sunshine
There were plenty of new events and old favorites for visitors to see, and attendance was solid throughout the week at the Harrison County Fair, leading Jeff Byerly, president of the Harrison County Agricultural Society, with plenty to smile about.
‘We had a little bit of rain on two days that did hurt a little bit, but we had very good numbers,’ he said. ‘Water being across slab bridge made it one less place for people to come in and made parking a little bit of a challenge but, from everyone I talked to and the vendors and everyone, they agreed it was pretty good.
‘Open shows, livestock shows were up, as well,’ Byerly said. ‘On Saturday night, I was worried about the attendance for the tractor pull but someone said to relax and as soon as the sun went down the grandstand would fill up. Sure enough, the sun went down and the grandstand was full. People were just waiting to come out because it was so hot.’
Byerly also said he believed the new 4-H Show Barn may have helped with the 4-H side of the fair.
When the longest consecutive running fair in Indiana rolls around in 2016, the grounds will have another change with the construction of the $2 million Talmage Windell Memorial Agricultural Building, a 20,000-square-foot, air-conditioned facility.
‘We had a couple of vendors say they are not sure if they are going to come back under the grandstand,’ Byerly said. ‘They really like the idea of air conditioning.’
In addition to new show space, the fair next year will likely have, well, a show.
‘We’ve got some plans to do a concert. I can confirm that Taylor Swift is not going to come, but we’re not sure of what or who yet. We want to do something big with 2016 being the (state’s) bicentennial,’ Byerly said. ‘It’ll look like a whole new fair.’
Paperwork is currently being processed to begin demolition work, hopefully, within the next month, on the Merchants Building and old Farm Bureau Building. The Homecomers Hall also will receive some repair work as part of renovation efforts at the fairgrounds in Corydon.
In regard to the controversial pig-chasing competition, Byerly said it was probably the biggest Wednesday night crowd he’s seen in many years. The grandstand was about a third full, and there were 36 teams of four chasers each who took part.
‘From what I’m hearing, it’ll probably be back,’ Byerly said. ‘Everyone who was in it enjoyed it. The crowd enjoyed it and, really, the only comment I’ve heard here is that we need to get it off Wednesday night, because it was 4-H pig night and the ones showing the pigs couldn’t get over to watch.’
Despite more than 18,000 signatures in an online petition posted at change.org by the River Valley Humane Society asking that the Harrison County Fair not have pig chasing, only one person in attendance protested.
Ray Wilson of New Middletown sent an email to the Harrison County Commissioners, complaining that the event violated county animal control ordinance, specifically language that it was unlawful for any person to willfully torment any animal. He said he tried to get police to do something to stop the event and was told they could not.
Harrison County Animal Control Officer Bruce LaHue said he checked with the State Board of Animal Health as to the legality of pig chasing. The state board said there was no issue with pig wrestling as long as the pigs were vaccinated. A veterinarian was on site to check the pigs, but there appeared to be no injuries.