This weekend, the Brown County 4-H Fairgrounds will come alive with activity — well before the official start of fair week July 31.

Some events are moving, and other events are new to this year’s schedule.

Early events

The baby contest is happening early this year, in part to accommodate parents’ concerns about heat and preparation time.At 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16, babies will meet with judges in front of an audience, entirely within the air-conditioned Exhibit Building. That building normally houses 4-H projects during fair week.

The horse and pony show will take place at the fairgrounds arena Friday and Saturday, July 15 and 16.

The reason for the early show is to give 4-H’ers — most of whom show other animals at the fair — time to prepare for everything they are involved in, said Brown County Purdue Extension’s Lisa Wilson, the 4-H educator.

“The average is probably four projects per youth,” Wilson said.

Other shows happening before the official start of fair week are the cat show at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 24, rabbit showmanship at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 26, and dog shows at 7 p.m. Friday, July 29 and 8 a.m. Saturday, July 30.

New attractions

Two events have been added to the grandstand schedule: Ultimate Hillbilly Ninja Warrior on Monday night and Hoosier Pro Wrestling’s Brown County Rumble on Friday night.The wrestling league has a regular monthly event at the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds and a strong following of fans, said fair board President Mark Stargell.

He expects this event on Friday, Aug. 5, featuring fan favorites such as Flash Flanagan and Big Country Clint Poe, will draw people from outside of Brown County to the fair.

The Ultimate Hillbilly Ninja Warrior contest grew out of a wellness initiative among county government employees, said Melissa Stinson, one of the organizers.

Based on the television show of a similar name, the challenge on Monday, Aug. 1 will be open to everyone, with separate courses designed for children and adults.

Participants will run, jump, swing and crawl through the course, which will use a stack of old tires, plywood, toilet seats and plenty of mud to keep a “hillbilly” theme, Stinson said.

The whole thing will kick off with an exhibition run of the course by “professionals” for comic relief, Stinson said. Joe Wray and J.P. Owens will provide commentary throughout the event.

While the course will be challenging for those who want to take it seriously, it will still be accessible enough for just about anyone to try it, Stinson said.

Cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25 will be given for the top three men’s and women’s finishers, plus a ninja-style sword for each place, Stinson said.

The top three in each of the three 16-and-under groups will receive $50, $30 and $20.

Groups can compete as a team to promote their organization, but place will be determined by individual scores, Stinson said.

Overall, the fair board is hoping to encourage more attendance, especially at grandstand events, which are the big money-makers for the fair, Stargell said. Whether or not the fair can be self-sustaining hinges on the community’s support.

Other changes

Purses will not be awarded for grandstand events this year, though prize money will be given for some events gathered from entry fees. In previous years, the fair board was able to raise money for purses through sponsorship or from their own budget, but those options didn’t pan out this year, Stargell said.There will be more music on the grounds than in previous years. The pavilion will feature five nights of live music beginning Tuesday, Aug. 2 with an open jam, followed by the Brown County Rhapsody Show Choir, bluegrass music, gospel music and a rock band from the Bloomington area. Friday, Aug. 5 will have a 4-H battle of the bands.

There is also a change to the animal check-in time. This year animals will be checked in from 7-10 p.m. Sunday, July 31 and from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1.

The goal is to avoid the hottest hours of the day for the sake of the animals, Wilson said.

The livestock arena and the poultry and rabbit barn have switched locations, Wilson said. The move will give more room for spectators at livestock shows, and a cooler location in an open building.

The Livestock Club will have a new food booth to replace their flood-damaged building, Wilson said. That was made possible by significant donations from the Brown County Community Foundation and Brown County Farm Bureau, as well as donations of money and building supplies, not to mention time.

“We had a lot of people come forward and say, ‘Well, I can give pipes, and I can give fittings,” said Extension educator Alyssa Besser. “So that building really came to fruition fast, due to generosity.”

Wilson emphasized the importance of individual contributions — especially volunteer time — to having things ready in time for the fair.

“Those people have been working tirelessly — or perhaps tiredly,” she said.

“The fair cannot happen with just the Extension office or with just the volunteers that we have all the time — though that is a huge part of it.”

A successful fair requires the support of the greater community, whether it’s attending the grandstand events or cheering on the 4-H participants in the arena, she said.

“This is our big celebration of a lot of work that has happened all year long,” Wilson said.

Time to enter

Fair queen contest: Enter by midnight Monday, July 18. Pick up a form at the Brown County Purdue Extension Office, 802 Memorial Drive at the fairgrounds.

4-H non-perishable projects: Enter between 2 and 4 p.m. Sunday, July 24 or between 5 and 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 at the Exhibit Building.

4-H livestock: Enter between 7 and 10 p.m. Sunday, July 31, or between 7 and 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1.

Open Class non-perishable exhibits: Enter between 10 a.m. and noon Saturday, July 30, or between 9 and 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 1 at the Exhibit Building.

Open Class perishable exhibits: Enter between 10 a.m. and noon Monday, Aug. 1 at the Pavilion.

Pie contest: Enter between 5 and 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 at the Community Room.

Baby contest and junior king, queen, prince and princess contests: Entry deadline has passed. It was July 11.

On the Web

The Brown County 4-H Fair Preview Guide was inserted into the June 22 paper. If you missed yours, pick one up at the Brown County Democrat office for free or access it at

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Ben Kibbey is a Brown County transplant from the cornfields of central Ohio. He covers county government, business, outdoors, sports and general news.