What to expect at the Howard County 4-H Fair next week

·5 min read

Jul. 8—Although fair organizers ordered a mechanical elephant ride from the Czech Republic last year, they weren't able to showcase it. The control box fell into the ocean when the ride was being shipped to America.

Now that a new control box has made it over the Atlantic Ocean, Howard County 4-H Fair attendees will be able to visit the elephant ride once the fair opens Monday.

"We've had to get through COVID, and then last year was a great year for us," said Howard County Fair secretary Bryan Kirkpatrick. "This year, I think people are coming back. Personally, I'm looking forward to one of the best fairs ever, so long as we don't get rained out."

Jay Freeman, concessionaire manager, said the fair's children's entertainment will feature new attractions this year.

The Pork Chop Revue, a show where pigs do tricks, will be performed Monday through Sunday in the fair's Pioneer Village.

The Butterfly Encounter is another new attraction. On the north side of the fair's commercial building, a butterfly enclosure will allow fair visitors to see every stage of a butterfly's life. Although Monarch Butterflies will be the most common butterflies in the enclosure, there will be multiple butterfly breeds at the attraction.

Inside the Butterfly Encounter, Freeman explained, nectar bars will be provided to visitors.

"The butterflies will come right up and sit on the nectar bar," Freeman said.

The Greentown Historical Society is hosting the Howard County Free Throw this year.

During the nightly competition, any student who has played on a Howard County high school or township school varsity team will be invited to participate in a free throw competition.

Additionally, former players will be invited to shoot 10 free throws.

At the end of the fair, the average percentage will be used to determine which school is best at sinking free throws.

The competition will be held inside the red barn 6-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Some popular attractions are coming back, such as the Granpa Cratchet show.

The commercial building is also full this year. Freeman said it's the most vendors the fair has seen since before the pandemic. In total, there are 195 vendors.

"That just shows me that there's more and more and more people interested in getting out and doing things again," Freeman said.

Freeman said there will also be changes to food offered at the fair this year.

One vendor that has sold cinnamon rolls at the fair for 40 years won't be able to make it to Howard County this year. However, Freeman said, new vendors will take its place.

"We've got lots of tenderloins and pork and sausage and elephant ears," Freeman said.

Fire-N-The Hole, a Warsaw-based vendor that serves wood-fired pizza, is coming back this year. Last year, Freeman said, the pizza vendor accrued a line at least 40 feet long.

After two years, Morning Star Church is also coming back this year to serve food.

4-H will host livestock shows throughout the week.

"When people come after the fair, they're gonna see the lights and they're gonna see the rides, and they can see the food and all that kind of stuff," said Josh Winrotte, who leads 4-H Youth Development. "But what we want to show them is the great work that Howard County youngsters are doing."

Judges will consider different categories at each presentation, Winrotte said. For example, the judges primarily consider bodily composition, such as belly fat, when examining pigs.

There are also showmanship categories, though, where the competing children are judged based on their ability to present the animals and answer questions.

"We really try to go with both aspects," Winrotte said. "The animals or the project itself is important, but so is the youth's ability to convey that knowledge."

The Supreme Showmanship competition, which is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, will be the culmination of best senior presenters in the cattle, swine, sheep, goat and horse categories.

The top presenters from each category will show off all five animals during the competition. The presenters will not be able to use their own animals either, Winrotte said, which gives judges an opportunity to separate an animal's impressiveness from the youth's ability to present.

"To watch those kids work them, you wouldn't know that they're not their own, and their ability to move between species is amazing," Winrotte said. "As far as the livestock, if you're going to see one thing all week long, that's what I would see. ... It's the best of the best."

The livestock auction, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, will show off the most impressive animals, Winrotte said.

The auction will feature production livestock, which are used for food, and show livestock, which are used to breed higher-level livestock.

Most families, Winrotte said, use the funds awarded at the auction to purchase their animal for the next year or to build a college fund.

In total, Danny Huston, owner of North American Midway Entertainment, said there will be 25 carnival rides this year. Other than the Czech Republic and America, some rides were made in Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

The first Howard County Fair, Freeman explained, was held in 1946 and didn't have any rides. His parents helped organize it.

Huston explained his company provides rides at multiple fairs throughout the country.

"This fair is incredible. I mean, it's one of the best-run county fairs in the state," Huston said. "It's a pleasure to be here. ... I don't go to many fairs. This is the one I come to."

James Bennett III can be reached at 765-454-8580 or james.bennett@kokomotribune.com.