Rain, heat impact fair turnout

Traci Westcott/The Herald
Noah Wagner, 15, of Jasper, sprays water at Jessica, a gilt pig, at the Dubois County 4-H Fairgrounds in Bretzville on July 15. "Usually they don't like baths at the farm, but here they love it," Noah said.


With the Dubois County 4-H fair wrapped up and in the rearview mirror, there were some noticeable differences in this year’s fair.

The fair saw a lower turnout than normal, with rain pouring in Bretzville Monday and Tuesday and heat indices reaching over 100 degrees.

“The extreme heat hurt us as far as attendance,” said Sandy Neukam, a member of the Dubois County 4-H Council.

The weather not only affected attendance but many of the scheduled events. The J.D. Shelburne concert was moved from the Grandstands Arena to the St. Anthony Community Center because of heavy rain on Tuesday.

Some of the horse shows were moved to different days and some free stage events had to be moved under the Gathering Place Tent due to the weather. The garden tractor pull was canceled Monday night because rain made the track unusable.

“People didn’t want to leave [home] because they thought it was going to pour when they got to the fairgrounds,” Neukam said. “The weather really played a big part this year.”

The new carnival company, Derby City Amusements, also brought fewer carnival games to the fair this year.

“Their contract had a specific number of games they were supposed to bring and they just did not bring them,” Neukam said.

Other events, like the ice cream crank off and the kickball tournament, were canceled due to a lack of participation.

“We were kind of late to the game in getting that [kickball] promoted so we are going to try that again next year,” said Lisa Wilson, 4-H youth development educator for the Dubois County Purdue Extension.

The extension office sends surveys out to 4-H families every year after the fair to hear feedback on what they liked and what they would like to see improved. While those surveys have not yet been sent out, Wilson said she has received positive feedback about the fair from families she has spoken to.

“We think it went very well,” she said.

Wilson said the extension is always looking to have more youth join the program. This year saw a nearly 20-person increase in 4-H’ers over last year.

To improve upon this year’s fair, Wilson hopes to connect more with community groups to come in and runs booths in the commercial building as well as on the midway. She also plans to consult with the 4-H council about including more events in the Grandstands Arena to attract new visitors.

“We always take whatever comments we can get from the community to try to build it up because it’s the community’s fair,” she said.

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