The Howard County 4-H Fair is always one of the biggest fairs in the state, but this year it’s likely the very largest as other fairs throughout the state have canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Jay Freeman, concessionaire manager of the fair, the Greentown Lions Club board decided to go ahead with the 75th annual fair after the Purdue Extension office announced plans to carry on with the 4-H activities, with some safety precautions in place.
“The main reason we decided to do it is because of 4-H. Our extension office had decided to have the judging and so forth, and since we are a 4-H fair, we felt, as a Lions Club, we should follow suit with them and work with them. So, we’ll have activities here for everybody,” said Freeman.
For 4-H, the judging will take place at the fairgrounds, per usual, though livestock will be brought in on different days and won’t be left overnight. The 4-H buildings will be open to the public, and those in 4-H are required to wear face masks.
In addition to 4-H, all of the regular fair staples are in place – sans the queen and junior queen pageants – from rides and fair vendors to tractor pulls and concerts.
The Howard County 4-H Fair is the first fair this year North American Midway Entrainment, the company that provides the fair’s carnival annually, is setting up at. Late last month, the company began assembling rides so they could be inspected before the start of the fair. Typically, the inspections already are done, as the company already would have set up at multiple fairs by now.
Bracelet days take place Tuesday, July 14, from 3 p.m. to close, Thursday, July 16, from 3 p.m. to close, and Saturday, July 18, from 12 to 6 p.m. Shine 99 day is Wednesday, July 15.
According to Freeman, most of the food vendors will be back at the Howard County 4-H Fair this year, though a few pulled out as they weren’t on their typical fair circuit this year.
“We’ll have a few empty spots, but we’ll have plenty of fair food for everybody,” said Freeman.
One of this biggest changes this year is the cancelation of the queen and junior queen pageants. Freeman said the pageant board decided to cancel the pageants after the Indiana State Fair canceled, as there would be nowhere to send the winners. However, the Little Miss Howard County Princess Pageant will go on. It takes place on Monday, July 13, at 6 p.m. at the South Grandstands.
As for the entertainment, Freeman was excited to bring back Henry Lee Summer for the second consecutive year. Summer is known for hits such as “I Wish I Had a Girl” that reached No. 1 on the Mainstreet Rock Hit chart and No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “Hey Baby” that made it to No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Other hits that made the Billboard chart include “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t,” “Hands on the Radio,” and “Till Somebody Loves You.”
Summer will perform on Saturday, July 18, at 8 p.m. at the South Grandstands.
Other musical entertainment includes Medicinal Bluegrass on Monday, July 13, at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Village, The Stampede Band on Thursday, July 16, at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Village, and Phil Dirt and the Dozers on Friday, July 17, at 8 p.m. at South Grandstands.
Freeman said guests are encouraged to wear masks, bring hand sanitizer, and social distance.
With the cancelation of other fairs, Freeman said it’s possible crowds could be larger.
“I really feel like maybe (more people will come). I’ve been getting a lot of calls from up north and some from south. I had a call today from people south of Indianapolis making sure Phil Dirt and the Dozers were still performing because they’ll be coming up,” he said. “So it may be a thing that it’s going to be fantastic. Who knows. But we’re here, and we’re going to try.”
For a complete schedule of events, visit howardcofair.com.