|The Agricultural and 4-H Fair - Southeast Edition|
A county fair at the turn of the Twentieth Century constituted the major event of the year for most people. Many people that lived some distance from the fair got up well before dawn to pack a clothes basket with food and hoist kitchen chairs into a spring wagon. After hitching the horses and donning some of their finest clothes, they piled into the wagon, well padded with straw, to ride to the fair.
Travel to the Fair
The roads were dusty and rutted. The younger members of the family got out of the wagon and walked up hills to save the horse's energy. Houses along the way were deserted, as most residents went to the county fair. The horses kicked up an ample amount of dust that coated the travelers clothing.
Most of the clothing was home made. Women wore long gowns with many petticoats meant to hide the female form. Many men wore suits, with white linen pants. Younger women's dresses were bright colored. Calico dresses were the norm, with many colors represented, red, yellow and green. By the time the family arrived at the fair, most of the clothing was wrinkled from the long trip in a cramped, bumpy wagon. The men generally carried their buggy whip with them to ensure that no one stole it. Older women generally just wore black dresses, aprons and sunbonnet. Most women adopted a style of hair, called a "permanent," early in life and usually did not change it. Most women just shaped their hair into a "doorknob," positioned on the back of their heads.
In the Exhibition Hall judges sampled the various cakes, canned fruits, bread, preserves, jellies and other foods that ladies had entered into competition. There were displays of enormous pumpkins, vegetables and other produce for visitors to admire. The visitors could also view various quilts made by ladies that exhibited a kaleidoscope of different colors and designs. Some of the designs were old time favorite’s log cabin, endless chain, devils claw, Wall of Troy, Star of Bethlehem and flowers. Exhibits of embroidery, flowers, needlework, coverlets and artist's creations rounded out the fairs' attractions. Horse races created a wonderful entertainment and a band played music that flowed over the fairgrounds. Many couples married during the fair, and "fair brides" adorned the fairground with their white dresses trimmed with satin. They ate lunch seated on the kitchen chairs brought from home and visited with friends and family attending the fair.
The Modern Fair
The modern Indiana county fair provides a showcase for the work and dedication of the 4-H kids. The fairgrounds provides a venue for them to display to the general public a grand variety of skills that range from caring for various forms of livestock to photography, land conservation, food preservation, sewing, woodworking and scores of other topics. Visitors can tour the livestock barns, display buildings and watch public speaking demonstrations staged to allow future leaders to hone their speech making skills. Fashion shows provide a forum for kids to model the clothing they made and Robotics Show demonstrations display their prowess at technology.
In addition to the 4-H display areas, most fairgrounds include a grandstand area in which many different types of events take place. Visitors can watch tractor pulls, demolition derbies, races, draft horse pulls and other events found no where else but a county fair. Contests like Cow Kissing Contests, Stick Horse Contests and Llama Costume Contests lend some fun and laughter to the fair. Many fairs have Cat Shows, Dog Shows and auctions in which some of the foods are auctioned off, the proceeds going to the winning child.