The Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Board has turned down a plan to bring fireworks to the county fair this summer, but the fair will open a day early on the Fourth of July.
Larry Fisher, president of the fair board, said the board approved the extra day at its meeting Monday night but voted unanimously against the fireworks proposal.
Fisher said the board heard from several community members who applauded the fireworks idea.
“It sounded like a good idea and feasibly could have been, but there were just too many variables,” he said.
The largest concern was for the cost of liability insurance, which fair board members concluded would be too expensive. Fisher said fireworks regulations would have required that nearby roads such as State Road 11 and County Road 200S either be closed or that the fireworks be kept away from the roads, which did not seem possible.
The traffic problems brought by the summer road work on County Road 200S also were a concern for board members, he said. It is likely that the fair will have to have Spear Street open to both directions of travel, and that could cause problems as fair-goers leave after the fireworks.
Last year, the drought caused concerns of accidental fires in the straw-covered parking lots on the fairgrounds, leading to a smoking ban on the grounds.
Without knowing how dry the fairgrounds will be this year, fair board members were leery of approving the fireworks because of the possible fire hazard, Fisher said.
The fair normally begins the first Friday of July. This year, that is July 5, meaning the day before will be Independence Day. The company that provides the midway rides already will have them set up before the Fourth of July, so it made sense financially to open a day early, Fisher said.
This year’s 11-day fair still will end July 14, as scheduled.
Fisher said the animal exhibits and commercial buildings will not be open on July 4. However, the midway will be open, and some of the long-standing food booths already have committed to opening early, Fisher said.
The board also agreed to allow free parking on the Fourth of July.