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Editorial: County fair shines with assistance of unheralded

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The 57th Bartholomew County 4-H Fair concluded on a high note Saturday with a record livestock auction, the last day of midway rides and a demolition derby.

An average of about 15,600 people visited the fairgrounds daily, highlighted by 24,500 on July 9. This year’s fair drew more than 1,000 exhibitors, featured 18 4-H clubs and was boosted by the work of 130 volunteers.

But this great slice of Bartholomew County life and heritage doesn’t come off successfully without the additional support of two key groups: Fair board members and livestock buyers.

The six fair board officers, 10 directors and numerous committee members put in countless hours to direct the largest community event of each year. They donate their time, talents and skills because they believe in the benefits of 4-H programs for children and because the fair is one of the county’s entertainment highlights of the year.

Fair board service is long-term for some members. Serving 10 or more years is not uncommon. For some families, service to the fair spans generations.

Such levels of support is also evident among buyers at the annual livestock auction.

Saturday’s event featured 130 bidders, including 96 who bought at least one animal. The auction raised a record $302,484 — the fifth consecutive year auction totals have increased and a dramatic jump from the $127,228 raised in 2009, when effects of the recession were taking hold.

The record-setting auction total was achieved because generous buyers paid far above animal market values. Buyers didn’t mind, though, because the money supports the kids who participate in 4-H. For many young exhibitors, auction checks become key parts of their college fund.

Fair board members and livestock buyers don’t garner a lot of attention at the fair, typically preferring to keep the focus on the 4-H participants. We understand that but want to shine a deserving spotlight on them — and all fair backers — anyway to say thanks for a job well done.

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