The Hendricks County 4-H Fair Returns July 18-24
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After a year of cancelled plans, it’s awesome to finally be able to jot down some fun events on our calendars. Get out your pens and mark July 18-24 for the return of the Hendricks County 4-H Fair! According to Steve Patterson, Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds executive director, they are calling it a “transition fair” because it won’t be a full fair with all of the activities as it was in 2019 and yet it won’t be like 2020, which was 4-H only. Don’t let the word “transition” scare you, however, because the seven-day event is chock-full of yummy food, thrilling rides, cute animals and fun activities to suit every age. In addition, there will be 4-H projects on display as well as grandstand entertainment and contests of all sorts.
“We’re bringing back the talent contest and the cheerleading contest, which are always popular events,” Patterson says.
This year they are adding flat track drags to their events, which is drag racing for dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and trucks. And folks will be happy to know that the rodeo is returning. Plus, they are having a garden tractor pull. Ground entertainment for the week will be Rhinestone Roper, who does a horse display. They are also bringing back Wolves of the World, which was a popular demonstration five years ago. In addition, Cow Town is an educational experience that invites guests to learn all about agriculture and teaches how to milk a cow and make soap, butter and ice cream. There will also be a petting corral.
A whole different aspect of the fair that a lot of people don’t know about is the Hendricks County Extension Homemakers, which will have open class competitions for things like cooking, baking, sewing, and gardening. Any age resident of Hendricks County is eligible to enter their item for just $1 and win cash money for prizes. First place wins $10, second place $8, third place $5 and overall champion gets an additional $10.
“They have money for hobbies and crafts, needlecraft, photography, personal art, all sorts of things,” Patterson says.
On July 22, the Hendricks County Extension Homemakers is holding a chocolate contest where they will invite local bakers to enter their best cakes, candies, cookies, pies, quick breads, and more. No packaged mixes are allowed, nor are any ingredients that would require the entry to be refrigerated.
“We accept entries from noon until 2 p.m., and judging starts at 2 p.m. so raw milk, sour cream or heavy cream can’t be used,” says Deloris Elza, who is in charge of the chocolate contest. Contestants appreciate the fact that their entries are critiqued as they can take that constructive criticism and improve their product next year.
The morning of the chocolate contest will be a presentation called, “Chocolate Really Grows on Trees,” during which the speaker will share where chocolate beans come from and how they are processed. Following that will be a presentation on how to melt and work with chocolate. The Quilt Block contest is also held that day.
Plus, they are presenting “I can, you can,” and this year has to do with international fruits and vegetables.
“We will have master gardeners working with us,” Elza says.
To help with food insecurity in Hendricks County, fair organizers are hosting a food drive for food banks in the community. Anyone who brings in so many ounces of food gets a free ticket. In 2019, fair organizers had a peanut butter drive for the food banks and collected more than 500 pounds of peanut butter.
“With all the groups under the Extension umbrella, we’re hoping we will even surpass that amount for our food banks for the upcoming winter,” Elza says.
Kati Sweet, 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator, says that they will offer several opportunities this summer for their 4-H youth to show off the hard work they have put into their projects during the past year. For instance, they will have their 4-H static project judging, their event contests, and their livestock competitions at the Hendricks County 4-H Fair. The static projects include their indoor projects such as posters, displays and exhibits related to specific 4-H projects. Their event contests, such as public speaking and fashion revue, will happen in the week leading up to the fair and during the fair.
In addition, they will hold their livestock competitions for their 4-H members in livestock projects such as dogs, cattle, swine, and more. All their judging, contests and competitions will still have added safety precautions in place to keep 4-H families and the public safe.
“Members will have the choice to exhibit in person or virtually depending on their level of comfort and health,” Sweet says. “We’re excited to be growing from where we were last year, but we will not necessarily be where we were in 2019 yet.”
Though livestock animals will be on display, they will divide up the species so that they can spread out more. Beef and dairy used to be together but now beef will be at one time and dairy another. Goats will also be divided up. They are also bringing back the Ag Experience, an educational area that houses calves, rabbits, and other small animals held in the Cartlidge Barn.
“Our 4-Hers and volunteers have been working hard all year despite the many challenges they have faced of virtual meetings, canceled and rescheduled programs, and additional restrictions for events,” Sweet says. “We’re looking forward to celebrating all that our youth have accomplished and hope that our community will congratulate and support them as we move into our busiest time of year.”
Fair admission is just $5. Plus, they will have some special days with discounts.
“It’s the state fair experience at a county fair price,” Patterson says.
Though it will feel and look like a typical fair, staff is making some safety changes that may not even be noticeable to attendees such as spreading out concessions a bit more. Masks, however, will not be required at the fair. They may also reduce capacity in some areas although they are not capping guests to enter the fair.
Patterson is anticipating good numbers this year seeing as how people are experiencing big-time cabin fever. Now that increasing numbers of people are getting vaccinated (many at the Hendricks County Fairgrounds!), the general public is feeling safer about socializing in crowds and tasting a sense of normalcy (along with an elephant ear). Florida fairs have reported record attendance, drawing larger crowds than they have seen in previous years simply because people want to get out and socialize.
“We’re looking forward to seeing people in person, and I think people are excited to get out and come back, get their fair food, see the animals, take in the attractions, and not be at home,” Patterson says. “We’re trying to make it as safe an environment as we can because we know folks are craving some normalcy, so we hope that people come out and have a great time.”
The Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds are located at 1900 E. Main St., Danville. For more information about the Hendricks County 4-H Fair, call 317-718-6153 or visit www.4hcomplex.org.