For some Brown Countians, the best part of the fair isn’t riding rides, seeing farm animals or watching the demolition derby.
It’s the fried potatoes and rib-eye sandwiches at the Lick Creek Love Bugs food booth.
The length of the line every night can attest to that.
“People will say, ‘Oh I’ve been waiting all year for this. I love your rib-eyes, I love your fried potatoes,” leader Kim Stout said.
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This is Stout’s fourth year as the leader of the longest-running 4-H club in Brown County. She took over when founder Betty Whitehorn retired.
Today, there are 19 families and 25 children in the club.
Whitehorn started the club in 1975 with four girls as members, including her sister, Wilma.
At the time, the county didn’t have a general 4-H club for the kids who didn’t want to show an animal but rather display their gardening or sewing skills.
“There’s a lot of learning and areas for the kids to grow, not just in the project area, but in life skills. I think there’s a lot more to 4-H than showing at the fair. It’s a learning opportunity,” Whitehorn said.
The Love Bugs’ fundraising food booth started in 1976, serving corn on the cob and drinks. Whitehorn’s parents, Chelsea and Rosemary Sisson, were there to help.
For a few years, the booth served steak dinners with fried potatoes on Friday and Saturday nights of the fair. When Whitehorn decided to do away with the dinners, the fried potatoes stayed on the menu so customers could design their meals.
The kids help out in the food booth. Most are “runners” responsible for grabbing sandwiches, potatoes, corn and drinks for customers.
One girl really enjoys making the sweet tea and making sure the condiment table is filled, so Stout lets her take the lead.
Other Love Bug kids and their families who are also in livestock clubs put in their service hours by doing meal preparation during the day before they have to show their animals that evening, Stout said.
“I have one boy who likes to cook the corn. I can put him on the corn detail,” Stout said.
Each year, the club takes a “family trip” with the money raised at the fair: Caribbean Cove, the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis and Fair Oaks Farms have all been destinations.
That tradition still exists in the form of a completion trip, Stout said. This year, the kids voted to do a combination “trip” with the Cattle Club and any other interested clubs, back to the fairgrounds for a cookout and camp-out.
“Family” is the way Whitehorn always thought of her club, and that tradition continues today, too.
“We’ve had some people that have been members of the club, now their kids are members of the club. It’s been a longstanding one,” Stout said.