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The lack of carnival rides may have dampened the spirits of some at last week’s Crawford County 4-H Fair, but there was still plenty of fun to be found, including the annual truck pull, above, and the bungee bounce, below, as demonstrated by Ally Arvin, 8, of English. Photos by Chris Adams

Ride-less fair still produces lots of thrills

July 22, 2009
The Crawford County 4-H Fair didn't go as fair officials had planned, but, according to many people who attended, it was still a good one.

This year's fair had everything going for it: a new and appreciated livestock building that one 4-H kid said was "as good as any county around has"; a pavilion that has been closed in and is now climate-controlled and roomy with a stage, exhibit hall and concession area; a new off-road track; a new sound system for announcements; and well-planned events that would entertain fair-goers every evening, like the popular demo derby, truck pull, livestock auction and many others.

But regardless of all the planning, hard work and sweat by officials and volunteers, there was just one problem that developed which irritated many young fair-goers and officials alike: The rides didn't show up.

Almost as soon as one fair is over, the fair council begins planning for the next year's fair. Several fair events and activities are already planned and booked by January, and this year was no exception, including a contract with a company to supply five adult rides and five rides for children plus other booths and games.

"We had a contract with the company back in January," Jim Ade, director of the Purdue University Cooperative Extension office, which oversees the 4-H, said. "But evidently the company overbooked and chose to go elsewhere.

"When we changed the dates of the fair, the company we normally use had another commitment, so we had to go with a new company," he explained. "There are so many fairs going on at the same time, there's no way to get another company in at the last minute. They're all booked. It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

"We hate that it happened, and I know there were some disappointed kids. But we've done everything we could to have a good fair, and I believe we have. Our arena events have been great, and we've had good attendance. And the weather has been perfect; if I could talk to the fair god, I would have ordered this weather."

Even without the rides, the fair still had something for everyone.

"I missed the rides," 11-year-old Jessica Pierce, of English, said. "But I like to watch the truck pulls and some other events, too, so it's still fun."

"When the kids aren't happy, the parents aren't happy," Ted Pearson, of Valeene, said with a laugh. "But the kids are still lucky. The new buildings are great, and the arena is really nice. Corydon and Orange County don't have a thing on the Crawford County Fair anymore."

Shayna Sprinkle, 8, confessed she was a little disappointed.

"Well, I missed the rides, but I still like seeing the livestock," she said. "It's still fun."

The exhibit hall was full of 4-H and other projects this year. The center of the hall was taken up by a huge display of creative and educational posters that covered everything from pet education to types of fences, shearing sheep, tree planting, types of leaves, weather, artificial insemination, wildlife, the parts of a horse, food, food preservation, shooting sports and photography. There was a miniature farm scene that was an eye-catcher and won several blue ribbons for the builders.

In addition, the hall seemed full of color because of the more than 30 quilts that hung on three of the walls. The quilts drew a lot of attention because of the fine detail of the stitching and the themes that included a memorial to 9/11, old bandanas and a quilt of roosters that caught the eye of almost everyone walking by.

A quilt-making demonstration was ongoing throughout the fair. Charlie Baker was also there carving out wooden birds and displaying many examples of his work.

The main pavilion was used this year to house displays and booths, including an ice cream sale to raise money for Prevent Child Abuse.

The livestock auction Friday evening was, as usual, a big hit with the crowd. After raising and caring for their animals for months, the 4-H kids sold some of them at auction. Even though many of the kids form attachments to their animals, most of them are comfortable with selling them to the highest bidder.

Evan Crecelius raised an Angus steer for the fair this year and was looking forward to having a little extra cash.

"He's seeing dollar signs now," his mother, Kaylee, said. "So much for the bonding thing."

Evan also had a Grand Champion crossbred hog at the fair.

"You never know, I may buy something here to-night," District 3 Crawford County Commissioner Jim Schultz said. "Heck, I'll buy anything. I even bought a turkey one year. But some of the kids are really attached to their animals. I've seen them when they were just fine during the auction, but when they see their animal being loaded on someone's trailer, they'll start crying."

Morgan Welch, 13, whose shorthorn steer, Plowboy, won best in its breed, wasn't going to sell him. But not because she was overly attached.

"We're going to eat him," she confessed. "But I'm not eating any part of him, except the hamburger."

Cassidey Davis, of Marengo, brought eight goats and sold two of them.

"One brought $375," she said. "And the other one sold for $350."

She added that the fair had been great this year, even without the rides.

"The new livestock barn made it really nice. We had lots of room. It's so much better now."

Mahala Morgan decided not to sell any of her nine goats. She's been invited to show her prize-winning goats at the Indiana and Kentucky state fairs and will go to the International Livestock Expo in November.

Chris Novak, 18, of Leavenworth, sold his steer for $1,250, and his pig brought $375. Novak has joined the Air Force and will leave next month.

One event that is always a hit, Celebrity Night, was held last Tuesday evening. This year, the local celebs were required to dress a pig. Many of them chose to try to get a T-shirt on their pig, trying for, what they thought would be an easy task. But only Chief Probation Officer Jim Grizzel succeeded in actually getting a shirt completely on his animal. The Clarion News was well represented by a pig with a PRESS hat on his head (at least sometimes) and a camera around its neck.

However, one of the more entertaining parts of the event was when Indiana State Police Trooper Chuck Pirtle, of Milltown, tried to get a bikini on his pig. He had the pig in a small pen and asked Larry Bye, president of the county board of commissioners, to give him a hand.

Bye grabbed both back legs of the pig and raised it off the ground. The pig began kicking, shaking Bye like a rag, while Pirtle got the bikini top on the pig then attempted to get the bottom part on — and it was downhill from there. Finally, the pair worked out a system of lifting one leg at a time until the bikini bottom was in place. After that, the pig seemed to enjoy showing off the new wardrobe.

Later, as he was leaving, Pirtle seemed as proud as the pig.

"But, I'll tell you one thing," he said. "I never want to be in a small cage with a pig and Larry Bye again."

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