Despite higher-than-average heat and a few violent storms, the 2012 edition of the Clark County 4-H Fair was largely a success thanks to increased participation in 4-H clubs throughout the county.
“We’ve always had heat during our fair. This year it was really hotter than normal,” said Bob Allen, Purdue University county extension director. “We had a meeting Sunday with all of the livestock, animal families. We took every precaution to keep the children hydrated and the animals hydrated, and added a lot more ventilation than normal.”
Allen doesn’t yet have solid numbers, but he said this year’s participation could come close to meeting or even exceeding the 652 exhibits on display at last year’s fair. He chalks it up to more Clark County youth getting involved in 4-H clubs.
“More young people getting involved in the show end of it,” Allen said. “I believe in most species, we had more — and again, we’re not talking lots. ... I would say our pig show was definitely up. We exhibited 159 head. I would say the goat show was static. We’ve had a large number of kids that have exhibited poultry. And I’d say sheep, horses have been about where it’s been in the past. But definitely our hog project was up.
“But again, friends, neighbors, possibly the economy — it just seems like a lot of folks have come and been spectators at those evening shows, and we’re glad for that.”
Now in his 33rd year running county fairs and 14 in Clark County, Allen knows he can’t handle all of the challenges fair week presents on his own. For Allen, the highlight of the week is the people who help pull it off.
“The committees and parents supporting their young people to the extent that they’ve done, it’s always a highlight for me,” Allen said. “That’s why I’m in the job that I’m in. But they turn out for fair time, and we’re doing everything we can to make it a fun, positive experience, a growth experience for them.”
“I think even with the weather on Saturday, it seemed like the crowds were pretty heavy,” Otisco resident and fair exhibitor Sharon Borger said. Borger, her husband and their three children were on hand for each day of the fair and they had a good time as usual, she said.
John Borger, 14, showed pigs and horses for the majority of the week, but the highlight of the week for him was Wednesday, when he got to leave the critical eye of judges to spend the day relaxing.
“We just ride rides, hang out with my friends — [we] just don’t do much,” John said.
The fair’s not over yet — after lightning struck the fairgrounds’ midway on Thursday evening, the fair’s family night was moved to tonight [Saturday]. Although exhibits will be packed away, the carnival rides and food booths will still be open with a discount on play and ride tickets.
The fair did have one other major setback earlier in the week — the cancellation of its annual tractor pull, one of the biggest fundraisers of the week.
In its place, 4-H will host a barn dance Sept. 29, featuring live music and square dancing. Allen promised more information is coming, but said that tickets for the event will be on sale tonight [Saturday] at the fairgrounds’ food center.
ON THE WEB
• 4-H is in search of new members and leadership volunteers. To learn how you can get involved, visit clarkcounty4h.com