Bartholomew County 4-H Fair preview: 4-Hers competing, rides and lots of entertainment on the schedule

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Fair goers fly through the air on a ride during the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, June 28, 2022.

For the first time, a rock music extravaganza will kick off the annual Bartholomew County 4-H Fair, which begins its nine-day run Friday, June 23 and runs through Saturday, July 1.

Well-known for earlier performances in Columbus, the Woomblies Rock Orchestra features 11-musicians that include a four-piece string section and two horns. Their 7 p.m. concert at the grandstand will range from Motown hits to classic rock. Individual tickets for adults are $5, but children 12 and younger will be admitted free.

While fair attendance is returning to normal, membership in the 4-H clubs has not yet fully recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017 and 2018, local club membership ranged from 810 to 840 members, according to 4-H Youth Development Director Elisabeth Eaton.

But as a result of the 2020 pandemic, that number dropped to 593 in 2021 before rising to 624 last year. While there are 611 members today, Eaton said that number seems low because of an exceptionally high number of teens who completed their 10th and final year in 2022.

Many of the current young people who show livestock, horses and poultry will have multiple entries, fair board president Rick Trimpe said. But he is also urging fair patrons to check out the non-agricultural exhibits that range from technology to arts and crafts. Many can be found within the REMC Family Arts building.

Returning to the midway for the second consecutive year will be Kissel Entertainment. With offices in Okeana, Ohio and Clanton, Alabama, Kissel is promising to bring additional rides not previously seen in Bartholomew County, Trimpe said. The fair board was sufficiently impressed by Kissel’s 2022 midway, Trimpe said.

During the nine-day run of the fair, a variety of different activities will be taking place mornings, afternoons and evenings. For a full listing, look for the 4-H activities booklet that will be distributed Thursday in The Republic.

Among those events that have proved fan favorites are:

Friday, June 23: The official opening will be at 5 p.m. Unlimited rides at the fairway will be available for the purchase of a $30 wristband. When the rock concert from Woomblies Rock Orchestra gets underway at 7 p.m. in the grandstand, the locally-popular Night Owl Country Band will perform at the David Boll Theatre.

Saturday, June 24: Military Appreciation Day allows anyone with a military ID to park for free. The Little Miss and Mister contest begins at 3 p.m. in the David Boll Theatre. One of the largest crowds are expected to attend the 7 p.m. Demolition Derby at the grandstand. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12. The first of two Midnight Madness discounts gets underway at 8 p.m. The purchase of a $25 wristband provides unlimited rides until closing.

Sunday, June 25: The Antique Tractor Pull begins at noon in the grandstand, while the Baby Personality Contest will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Farm Bureau building. The midway opens at 3 p.m. with unlimited rides for the purchase of a $35 wristband. The Farm Stock Tractor Pull and Truck Pull will be held inside the grandstand at 6:30 p.m., while the 4-H Fashion Review begins at 7 p.m. in the David Boll Theatre

Monday, June 26: The Watermelon Seed Spitting begins at 5:30 p.m. inside the Farm Bureau Building. But one of the biggest events of the fair is expected to be the Three Bar J Rodeo, weather permitting. It begins at 7 p.m. on Monday in the grandstand. When the rodeo returned in 2022 after being absent for several years, it attracted the same size crowd as a demolition derby, Trimpe said.

Tuesday, June 27: Patrons can get $5 off a $30 wristband for unlimited rides from 5 p.m. until closing if they bring a canned good to be donated to a food pantry. The top Tuesday night attraction will be the All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midget race, sponsored by the Tony Stewart Foundation. Stewart, a Columbus native and NASCAR Hall of Famer, plans to attend and compete in the race unless something unexpected impacts his schedule, Trimpe said.

Wednesday, June 28: Traditionally known as Kids’ Day, a $25 wristband will provide unlimited rides from 3 p.m. until closing. The Columbus Go-Karts will be the featured event at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. In the David Boll Theatre, activities for younger children will be held from 3 – 4:30 p.m. during the Adventure Day Carnival. In the same location, free entertainment will be provided at 6 p.m. by Sonya’s Dance Zone.

Thursday, June 29: In the David Boll Theatre, a repertoire of marches, show tunes and light classical compositions will be performed at 7 p.m. by the Columbus City Band. At the same time, the Southern Indiana Dirt Drags will be held in the grandstand. This is essentially diesel drag racing with pickup trucks, with 150 to 200-foot sprints taking place in the dirt. When the midway opens at 5 p.m., wristbands will be $30 for unlimited rides, but if you buy one, you’ll get a second one free.

Friday, June 30: This is usually the busiest day for those in 4-H. Club activities include a Parade of Champions at 5 p.m. in the pavilion, the Supreme Showmanship and Livestock Awards from 6:30 -7:30 p.m. The top music attraction will be a 7 p.m. performance by the Columbus East High School Choir in the David Boll Theatre. For midway lovers, Friday is the final Midnight Madness event that provides unlimited rides from 8 p.m. to closing for the purchase of a $25 wristband.

Saturday, July 1: The final day of the fair starts off with the 4-H Livestock Sale at 8:15 p.m. in the Pavilion. The midway will be open from 3 – 10 p.m., with $35 wristbands. The fair’s second Demolition Derby gets underway at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children under 12.

For the first time, those with travel trailers or recreational vehicles can enjoy modern amenities if they camp out at the fairgrounds all week. The county spent $629,180 of federal COVID-19 relief funds to install new sanitary sewer service, electrical pedestals and water upgrades at the fairgrounds. There are over 100 hookups that Trimpe says should be sufficient to accommodate both midway workers and local residents with RVs or campers.