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•The Weekender entertainment section of The Journal Gazette provides a complete preview of what to expect at The Allen County Fair.
Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
The Huntington County 4-H Parade moves along North Jefferson Street in Huntington during the 4-H Parade.

It’s fair season

Area celebrations offer up food, festivities and fun

July is the busiest month for county fairs in Indiana.

Some have midways with carnival games, rides, and concessions, while others focus almost entirely on 4-H events such as livestock and animal shows, project exhibits, rodeos and demonstrations. Many of the events are free.

Several county fairs now bring in well-known entertainment acts while others fill the need for speed, destruction or power with motocross events, demolition derbies, mud runs and tractor pulls.

Depending on your budget and tastes, county fairs offer a little bit of everything for everybody. Here’s a quick rundown of upcoming fairs in northeast Indiana.

Huntington County

July 13-July 27, Hier’s Park, 547 S. Briant St., Huntington

www.extension.purdue.edu/huntington

The Huntington County 4-H Fair focuses on the 4-H shows, awards and events, but also includes nightly entertainment. All are free to the public. Hundreds of poultry, sheep, swine, goats, rabbits and cows will be exhibited, making the fair one of the largest in the state in regards to animal entries, said Cory Boxell, president of the Huntington County 4-H Fair Association. The swine show on July 23 draws the largest crowd, Boxell said.

Crowd favorites among the concessions include thick chocolate shakes at the milkshake booth, breaded tenderloins from Nick’s Kitchen, fish from Backdoor Concessions and pork chops from the Huntington County Swine Boosters.

New this year are performances by Christian rock artists Attaboy and Jarod Mahone on July 22 , country singer Jessie Brown on July 23 and country music band Backwater July 25 on the United REMC outdoor stage.

A program July 22 will honor 68 members of 4-H with 10 years of involvment, a record number in the county.

Whitley County

July 13-July 19

680 Squawbuck Road, Columbia City

www.extension.purdue.edu/whitley

Like other rural fairs, kids and 4-H are the big draw, said Cindy Barnett, Whitley County extension educator.

The fair has added new events this year, including motocross, a rodeo and country music entertainment, she said. There will also be a children’s petting zoo near the Ag Museum, Barnett said.

In addition to the livestock shows, exhibits and Master Gardeners’ programs, an antique tractor pull is set for Monday.

A men’s demolition derby is tonight at 7 p.m. and a powder puff women’s demolition derby will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Held in the grandstand, admission is $7 per adult.

All events are free unless they occur in the grandstand.

Noble County

July 14-July 23

U.S. 6 East, Kendallville

www.noblecountyfair.org

This fair always draws a crowd for an annual free event that in the past has offered up such options as racing pigs and monkeys riding dogs. This year’s Pork Chop Review will host a swine variety show three times a day Wednesday though Saturday in an arena adjacent to the grandstand.

Country music fans are in for a treat Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., when platinum-selling David Nail and special guest Kip Moore will entertain on stage.

And for race fans, a Bump and Run Oval Derby at 7 p.m. Monday will feature NASCAR-type excitement with a twist – prize money will be awarded to those drivers who are the first to flip their cars.

Wells County

July 14-July 19

1240 4-H Park Road, Bluffton

www.wells4h.com

New this year for Wells County fairgoers are a homemade ice cream contest and a presentation by Huntington 4-H members detailing a new Robotics Club. The log cabin in the park will host several workshops for outdoor enthusiasts, including Birdscaping: how to landscape to attract birds on Monday ; and Pioneer Garden Escapees on Tuesday – a program about Indiana plants originally brought by pioneers from other parts of the country to use mostly for food and medicines.

There will be talent shows in the evenings and a chain saw art demonstration at 2 p.m. today, also in the log cabin area.

But the biggest crowds are seen at the livestock shows and the Miss Wells County pageant, said Roger Sherer, president of the fair board.

Most events are free.

Adams County

July 15 – 19

Corner of U.S. 124 and Polk Street, near Adams Central High School

www.extension.purdue.edu/adams

This fair is a throwback to the old days – a traditional 4-H event – said Roger Minnich, president of the fair board.

“The parade (7 p.m., Tuesday) and livestock shows are still the main draw,” Minnich said.

Those old-fashioned 4-H events include a bike rodeo, dog and cat shows, horse and pony shows and the Power of the Barns competition, where 10 teams from the six livestock barns square off in the horse arena for some fun relay games.

The fair is self-supporting, Minnich said, with volunteers manning all the concessions and events. All events are free.

Steuben County

July 20-26

100 Lane 101, Crooked Lake

www.extension.purdue.edu/steuben

There’s lots of dirty fun on opening night July 20 with the Mid-Summer Mud Run, which was so popular last year that fair officials brought it back, said Tami Mosier, 4-H youth development educator.

The competition pits drivers in souped-up cars, trucks, four-wheelers and more against one another in a pit of mud. A new fifth category was added this year exclusively for women drivers.

On July 21 the IPRA rodeo action will feature bull and trick riders and roping. On July 22, Senior Day, the crowd-pleasing truck and tractor pulls at 6 p.m. will be followed by something new this year – entertainment by Spike and the Bulldogs.

The light and heavyweight draft horse pulls are back on July 23. Other new events include a workshop by the United Way on how to build a working cardboard canoe and a 4-H Face Off, where teams of six will battle each other with mashed potatoes, eggs and greased watermelons.

To register for the Mud Run call 668-1000, ext. 1400.

DeKalb County Fair

Courthouse Square, Downtown Auburn

Summer Judging July 20-25

Fair Sept. 25-30

www.dekalbcountyfair.org

This fall fair features a midway and concessions that fill most of the downtown area and beyond while many other fair events are held throughout the city. One of the unique venues of the street fair is the free stage entertainment with performances by nationally known artists and musicians.

Two headliner acts have yet to be announced, but they are “big,” said Mike Good, director of the fair’s entertainment and midway. Good will announce the acts later this month.

Other featured musicians will include The Farm, Pop Evil, Fran Cosmo, former lead singer of Boston and Shiney Penny and the Critical Shoes. The Farm band includes fiddle player Nick Hoffman, known for his years playing in Kenny Chesney’s band, Good said.

New this year is a $1 million ride on the Poor Jack Amusement midway called Freak Out, and the midway will also offer buy-one, get-one-free ride tickets on Sept. 27, Good said.

vsade@jg.net

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