4-H fair returns to Dubois County

Photos by Kylie Schepers/The Herald
Evie Rasche, 14, of St. Anthony pushes Stella Verkamp, 3, and William Verkamp, 2, both of Schnellville, in a wheelbarrow at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds on Friday evening. The fair starts Monday, but 4-H’ers were busy Friday getting stalls ready for their animals and checking in projects.


Lisa Wilson, Purdue Extension Dubois County’s 4-H youth development educator, said she thinks of the 4-H fair as a jam-packed vacation.

“Sometimes it’s super busy and makes you really tired,” she said, “but it’s super fun and you wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

After largely being canceled last year, the 4-H fair is coming back in full swing this year from July 12 through July 16. Even more eager than Wilson are the 4-H participants, who get to make up for lost time. Wilson said some of the kids, especially the older ones, feel like they missed out.

“They are crazy excited to be back,” Wilson said. “This is like their celebration for their hard work all year, and last year they just submitted a picture or video, which is like what they do for school, which is no fun.”

The fair will also feature new activities, such as $15 hot air balloon rides on Tuesday, which Wilson said was originally planned for 2020 but couldn’t happen. Additionally, the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League will have a tractor pull during the fair. Normally, the tractor pull takes place after the fair has ended, so Wilson said she is excited to see a big turnout for the event.

Today, as the 4-H’ers get ready to go, Country artist JD Shelburne will perform in the Grandstand Arena.

Eli Mehringer, 10, of Celestine readies his mini horse stall for his horse, Gus, on Friday evening at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds.

“It’s kind of a big thing because people have been waiting for a concert to come back to the fair,” Wilson said. “A long time ago, like 10 years ago, we used to have a concert every year, and it was a big deal.”

In addition to Shelburne’s concert, there will be events at the Grandstand Arena every day this year, whereas usually there are some days where it sits empty, Wilson said. Other events in the arena will include a tractor pull, a kiddie pedal pull, drag racing, a rodeo and tug of war.

Tug of war, which will take place Thursday evening, is one of Wilson’s favorite activities to view, she said.

“I have never experienced the tug of war anywhere else that is like that one,” she said. “They get to dig themselves into holes and then it’s all very intense.”

Some activities will be returning from previous years, such as goat yoga presented by Yes Power Yoga from Huntingburg. This year, there will be two sessions due to how popular it was in 2019.

And, of course, there is bound to be plenty of excitement surrounding the animal shows. The beef and swine shows always bring a large turnout, Wilson said, but the sheep show is becoming increasingly popular, as well.

Overall, the fair will look pretty similar to a typical year, which is exciting in itself considering it can happen at all, Wilson said. She’s not sure how many attendees to expect, she said, but imagines that a lot of people are excited to get back out.

“I’ve been to a couple of community events and it seems like there were a lot more people out and about, but then I’ve been to a couple and it seemed like there were less,” she said. “It depends on what other people have going on, some nights are really busy, and some nights are really quiet. Sometimes it’s the grandstand events that determine the crowd, and sometimes it’s just, “Oh, it’s a nice weather day.’ ”

Ultimately, Wilson said she is most looking forward to being back with familiar faces. Growing up, Wilson spent 10 years in 4-H in Dubois County and helped shape her into the person she is today, she said. Now that she’s back, many of the adult volunteers are the same people she did 4-H with.

“It’s like all of us that used to come out here and have all the fun and got to learn from the 4-H experience, we’re all coming back and giving that same experience to our kids,” she said. “We raise them up and then they come back. That’s what 4-H is all about.”

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