The area's 4-H fair season begins in earnest this weekend as the Franklin County youth showcase their talents in a variety of agricultural and domestic disciplines.
Presiding over the festivities will be 2019 Franklin County 4-H Fair Queen Kristen Kolb and her court, selected at the annual contest held June 30. First runner-up India Burris, second runner-up Karen Kahles and Miss Congeniality Alexa Brehm will also be attending the dozens of shows and attractions that populate the schedule beginning July 11 and concluding July 20.
For county residents, it's a time to put aside Netflix and reconnect with the community.
"The fair's a time for communication, for people to see those they haven't seen in awhile, along with friends and family," offers Jennifer Kolb, a Franklin County Purdue Extension secretary and the queen's mother. "They should especially come support the kids, who have worked so hard on projects."
Although the fair doesn't start officially until Monday, a few notable events at the Brookville fairgrounds lead into opening day.
Project judging runs from July 10-14 and there's a fashion revue this Thursday at 1 p.m. Friday will feature a dog show (and agility) at 10 a.m., with the public speaking contest starting at 1 p.m. Champion speeches can be heard again Monday evening at 8 p.m. as part of the 4-H Awards and 10-year member awards ceremony.
Things start early Saturday at the horse arena, as the horse and pony show gets underway at 8 a.m. Horse and pony contesting begins at 8 a.m. Sunday, with livestock check-in happening throughout the day. A hymn sing is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Two livestock shows – poultry and meat goat – begin Monday's lineup at 9 a.m. The sheep show is set for 3 p.m. They're just the first of a popular weeklong attraction.
"These shows are popular for both old and young alike," notes Kolb. "You'll see many people who (showed) when they were that age. Some of them are real die-hards ... they keep records of who's won what over the years. It's neat to talk to them and see how things have changed."
Exhibits open to the public at 4 p.m. Monday in the fairgrounds' block buildings. One of the buildings (No. 4) will be the main recipient of donations, as the fair board hopes to complete upgrades by summer 2020. New pens for the sheep/goat barn are also on the wish list.
A new feature opens the grandstand schedule Monday.
"We're having a car cruise-in and touch-a-truck event," reveals Kolb, going on to describe the latter. "We contacted local fire and EMS, the county and other businesses to have them bring in some of their bigger equipment. Kids can get up close and personal to see what these big trucks are all about. They can also learn proper safety measures."
For freewill donations, fair-goers can check out classic cars and big trucks from 6-9 p.m. All makes and models are accepted at the cruise-in; interested parties should call board member Sara Bulmer at 765-698-4317. To register trucks, call the extension office at 765-647-3511.
Monday is also the first of three armband nights at the midway, presented by Funtime Carnival. All-access riding bands can be purchased for $18 that night and Thursday from 6-10 p.m.; and Saturday, July 20, from 5-10 p.m.
What would a fair be without food?
In addition to vendors located throughout the grounds, Tuesday is designated as Ribeye Day and Wednesday as Pork Day. The Cattlemen's Association begins serving ribeye dinners from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and again from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Pork Producers and Knights of Columbus dish out pork chop meals Wednesday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. Sponsors include Farm Credit Services and FCN Bank.
Tuesday's shows include beef and starter calves, 9 a.m.; a rabbit ambassador contest, 2 p.m.; rabbit show, 5 p.m.; and revue by Vicki's Studio of Dance, Brookville, 6:30 p.m.
A new company, Destruction Motorsports LLC, will take over the annual demolition derby starting 7 p.m. at the grandstands. According to Kolb, board member and racing enthusiast Jill Mergenthal gave DM a high recommendation to the board. There will be five classes: pro-stock, stock, 4-wheel drive only Gut-n-Go, full size circle track and mini 4-wheel drive circle track. Entry fees are $35 and cash prizes will go to the top three in pro-stock ($800 for first place) and stock ($600, first). For information, call James Wilson at 765-265-2054.
Wednesday contains a pair of underrated activities that may deserve more attention. "Family Fun Night returns for a second year," Kolb relates. "There's a pie-eating contest at 6 p.m. and an obstacle course at 7 p.m. and anyone can enter. We encourage people to come out and have some fun." Board Vice President Cheryl Simmermeyer will field questions at 513-967-8982.
By demand, lawn and garden tractor races return after being tested two years ago. Kolb adds these lawnmower races are growing in popularity, particularly north of Indiana. These are free to enter; motors must be 25 horsepower or below and helmets, long pants and boots are required. Call 513-260-6650 or 513-604-3010 for more info.
Also Wednesday: swine show, 9 a.m.; pet show, 6 p.m.; horse/pony demo and awards, 7 p.m.; and talent show, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday is dairy day at the show barns, starting with cattle at 9 a.m. and moving to goats at 10:30 a.m. The baby show (16 categories) begins under the activity tent at 6:30 p.m. The Showman of Showmen Contest is at 7 p.m., coinciding with the kiddie pedal pull and the truck and tractor pull at the grandstands.
Franklin County Young Farmers sponsor the kiddie pull; children aged 3-8 can sign up free between 5:30-6:30 p.m. A $25 hookup fee accompanies the big boy tractors. Classes are street stock semis, 9000 altered and 9500 hot farm tractors, 8000 3.0 and 8500 work stock diesel trucks, 6200 altered and open gas trucks and 13000 farm stock tractors. To register, call 765-265-3340.
Friday is Franklin County Chamber of Commerce Day, as things begin winding down in the show arenas. There is a Mini-4-H livestock exhibition at 11 a.m. and flat drag racing begins at 7 p.m. (continuing at 5 p.m. Saturday). The livestock auction at 6 p.m. figures to be a must-attend event once more. "There's always a big crowd and White's Auctions have given their time and been generous for many, many years," Kolb points out.
Grandstand charges for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are $10 for ages 17 and up and $5 for ages 6-16. Pit passes are $15 each night. Wednesday's lawn racing costs $5 for anyone 17 and up.
Fair volunteers are always appreciated and needed. To volunteer, call the extension office at 765-647-3511.
Kolb sums up the anticipation felt by everyone involved. "We hope to see everyone at the fair. Come out and see what we have to offer."
Will Fehlinger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 112.