September 28, 2021

County fairs return with a bang

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — As restrictions and regulations that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 are being lifted, many events and associations are trying to return to their traditional activities and routines. This includes 4-H and agricultural county fairs throughout the state of Indiana.

Last year, many of the county fairs were canceled, held virtually or heavily changed to limit the amount of people who were able to attend any in-person event.

This year, many county fairs are trying to return to as traditional of an event as they can. Many are being held with in-person attendance.

Purdue Extension educators discussed their county fairs this year.

“We are excited about the possibility to be back in person, but also to use this opportunity to rethink traditions and customs. We dreamed and asked ourselves, ‘How can we make the Marion County Fair epic in our new reality?’ We also wanted to be able to quickly pivot if COVID-19 restrictions were put back in place. Both in-person and virtual judging, via FairEntry and Zoom, were available to both increase access for our youth to exhibit and offer options for youth who may not be comfortable coming in person. Our fair culminated on July 11 with a showcase. 4-H members, families, volunteers and friends could come to the 4-H Exhibit Hall to view projects, participate in free family fun activities and recognize our youth through a closing ceremony.”

Dustin Homan, Purdue Extension 4-H Youth Development educator

Marion County

“It is a breath of fresh air. The biggest issue faced is trying to remember what all our roles are during the county fair. Youth and their families are so happy to be back on the fairgrounds showing off their hard work and projects to the community. We are all excited for 4-H this summer. There weren’t any major changes made, but we are still reminding families to stay safe, focus on social distancing and providing lots of sanitation equipment in all our facilities. This just isn’t a COVID-19 precaution, but a biosecurity one, as well.”

Katie Whiteford, Purdue Extension 4-H Youth Development educator

Clark County

“Cass County 4-H families, the community and our officers are elated to be able to have an in-person fair this year. It is the biggest thing that happens in the county every year. It was missed by many. Families have expressed enthusiasm for this opportunity. It is a chance to showcase the fantastic youth in Cass County and the work they have done on their projects. Changes were made on how things are set up, more hand-washing stations ordered and the food booths have some new requirements on serving their food to the public. Other than that, we are hosting the same big event. It is our 60th in-person fair at this site.”

Lynn Korniak, Purdue Extension 4-H Youth Development educator

Cass County

Ashley Estes

Ashley Estes

Field Editor