The fun begins Thursday as the 2014 Hamilton County 4-H Fair officially opens to the public. As the days click away prior to the start, 4-H projects are being judged and displayed inside various buildings and the approximate 1,700 livestock animals that will call the 4-H fairgrounds home for the next few days will move in Wednesday.
There is no charge for admission or parking at the 4-H Fair, and most activities are provided free of charge.
Hamilton County 4-H Youth Development Leader Kathleen Bohde said projects from the 2,000 4-H’ers will be on display to the community – showcasing the work and knowledge gained by participants.
“I see the fair is like the final exam,” Bohde said. “The fair is a way the 4-H’ers get to showcase what they’ve accomplished throughout the year. It’s also an opportunity for the public to learn about the projects. The kids love to share the information – these are experts on the projects.”
Hamilton County has added one new project this year – creative writing. Bohde said the project has more than 90 4-H’ers participating.
“That is huge for a first-year project. We thought 10 to 15 would be a success for a pilot year to get our feet wet,” she said, adding the projects includes a variety of writing styles including short story, poetry, comic book, microfiction (50 words or less) and children’s story. “There was a demand to give youth an opportunity to expand their writing skills.”
Hamilton County Purdue Extension officials estimate between 15,000 and 20,000 people will attend this year’s fair. Because the fair does not charge admission, officials say they have no way of knowing the exact attendance at each year.
“Weather affects attendance the most – if it is extremely hot or stormy,” said Hamilton County Purdue Extension Director Susan Peterson. “We get a great feel where our attendance is based on food sales and trash. We have the same food vendors who keep accurate records and can tell us year-to-year where we are at.”
Special events for the 2014 4-H Fair include puppet shows (noon and 2 p.m. July 19), Ballerina’s Academy of Dance (1 p.m. July 18), Demolition Derby (6 p.m. July 20), Street Dance (8 p.m. July 21) and a blood drive sponsored by the Hamilton County 4-H Council and the Indiana Blood Center (3 to 7 p.m. July 18). Blood drive participants will receive special discounts for fair food. Live music will be provided by Cooke and Belle (7 p.m. July 18), Rusty Bladen (6:30 and 8:15 p.m.) and Jeremy Morris & Harvest Road Band (2 p.m. July 20).
A cake reception to honor the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson establishing extension nationwide will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 17 in the Exhibition Center. Peterson said historical items and photos from Hamilton County will be on display at the celebration.
The fair isn’t just for 4-H’ers.
In addition to the food, animals, projects and various events, the community has several opportunities to showcase their talents. Open events for the public to participate include the Pet Parade, homemade ice cream contest, ice cream eating contest, youth talent contest, youth and adult tractor pulls and the Farmer Olympics.
“In my 25 fairs, one of the things we hear annually is it is such a positive atmosphere for families of all ages. It’s the promotion of the family,” Peterson said. “It’s really not about a ribbon they get – it’s fun and exciting, but it’s about the project, goat or pig that they are proud of what they brought to the fair.”
Peterson said like last year, swine will move-in on July 18 and non-auction animals will leave on July 20. The decision was a proactive one to prevent the potential of swine flu or other diseases from spreading.
“The incubation time is shorter,” she said. “It’s a precautionary move which was viewed very positively last year by the state board of health.”