Knox County Fair offers same food and fun boomers enjoyed as teens
The highlight of late summer activities during the teenage years for many of the boomer generation were the local county fairs. The Knox County 4-H Fair, touted as the “Oldest County Fair in the United States,” held some of the fondest memories of that era for thousands of residents in this southwestern Indiana community.
The strains of the up-tempo, calliope-style carnival music wafted through the afternoon, evening and nighttime corridors of the midway. Bright, flashing multi-colored lights illuminated the exciting atmosphere from one end of the fairgrounds to the other. The tantalizing aroma of elephant ears, corn dogs, cotton candy and what seemed like hundreds of other delicious fair fare made one want to stop and dine at every concession stand. Following the alluring smell coming from the Taffy Wagon always resulted in a tasty treat that is unequalled anywhere.
Teddy bears and a tremendous variety of other stuffed animals were proudly carried by young ladies whose boyfriends had just spent three times more in showing off and trying to win them than if they would have purchased them downtown. After the ping-pong balls were fished out of the water in clear glass bowls, plastic bags with goldfish were gingerly carried by youngsters who would spend the next day or two feeding and enjoying them.
Concrete “milk bottles” that couldn’t be knocked over with a softball were one of the toughest challenges facing the young men at the Knox County Fair. Running a close second were those metal ducks that glided smoothly along a fixed conveyor belt. If the sights on those BB guns were “true,” more rubber snakes would have been captured and a lot more money would have been saved. The lights, music and excitement coming from the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Ferris Wheel, the Scrambler and all the other fair rides were just the frosting on the cake.
Delicious dining choices
The annual visit to the Knox County Fair was not without its share of drama. The most difficult decision boomers were forced to make when they became hungry was which local church, community organization or civic group food booth they would choose to patronize. Whether it was the Tri-Kappa stand with its famous fish, a church booth manned by citizens of Bicknell, Bruceville, Freelandville, Monroe City, Oaktown, Sandborn or Westphalia, or a choice of delicacies from members of Civitan, Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary or one of the other clubs, the fine dining experience at the county fair was a delicious, fun-filled event.
The Horse and Pony Club concession stand, the Pork Producers and the Pronto Pup stand also added to the smorgasbord of delectable choices.
Knox County Fair clubs
As the name implies, the main objective of the Knox County Fair, which historians say was established in 1809, is to promote the agricultural expertise of the young people in Knox County. Becoming involved with one of the county’s local 4-H Clubs is a means by which our youngsters learn the values of hard work, dedication, responsibility and teamwork.
A 4-H club member chooses from more than 50 projects listed in the 4-H Handbook and proudly displays the result of his or her efforts at the fair, hoping for that prized purple Grand Champion award ribbon or a blue, red or white ribbon which signifies a first, second or third place designation. Some of the varied projects shown in this year’s 4-H Handbook include Aerospace, Agricultural Tractor, Poster, Arts & Crafts (including Model Crafts), Wearable Art, Beekeeping, Bicycle, Cake Decorating, Child Development, Collections, Computer Science and Consumer Clothing.
Other categories of 4-H projects are Creative & Expressive Art Card Making, Construction Toys, Farm Scene, Fashion Design, Gift Wrapping, Scrapbooking, Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, Electric, Entomology, Floriculture, Foods, Food Preservation, Create-A-Mix, Forestry, Garden, Genealogy, Geology, Health, Home Environment and Lawn & Garden.
Projects that may also be undertaken are Microwave Cooking, Personality, Photography, Physical Health, Sports, Recycling, Sewing, Sewing for Fun, Shooting Sports, Small Engine, Automotive, Soil & Water Conservation, Sport Fishing, Verbal Communications, Veterinary Science, Weather, Weeds, Wildlife, Woodworking, Animal Exhibits for Beef, Cattle, Dairy, Dogs, Cats, Goats, Boer, Pygmy, Horse & Pony, Poultry, Rabbits, Sheep and Swine.
Everyone has his or her own favorite special activity at the Knox County Fair and this year’s extravaganza of shows offers a wide variety from which to choose. One of the most well-attended by the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins and many other relatives and friends is the annual Knox County Fair Queen contest. Hundreds of female members down through the years, from every 4-H club in the county, have vied for the title of Miss Knox County 4-H Fair Queen throughout this long, honored tradition.
As many as 23 contestants have graced the stage on a particular midsummer evening in the Queen contest. The windstorm that ripped through the Grandstand just hours before one of the Queen contests was to begin, the 95-plus degree heat and humidity, nor the deep, sticky brown mud over which 12-foot wooden planks were laid from the dressing tent to the stage, as a path for the contestants on one particularly wet night, could not stop this special event from taking place. This year’s 2016 Knox County 4-H Fair Queen, Hailley Kahre, will take her farewell stroll across the stage shortly before a new fair queen is announced and crowned at the pageant beginning at 7 p.m. July 17 in the Vincennes University Pavilion.
The Tiny Tot contest is another one of the all-time fair favorites. Tots will be judged on the biggest smile and overall presentation. Eight Tiny Tot categories will be available for this year’s competition, which is scheduled to take place on July 18, also at the VU Pavilion, located next to the commercial and 4-H project display building.
There are four categories for the boys and four for the girls. These four age brackets are: Birth to 6 months, 6 months-one day to 12 months, 12 months-one day to 18 months and 18 months-one day to 24 months. Pre-registrations are required. Call the fair office at 812-735-2344 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. with any questions.
The 2017 Knox County Fair is scheduled to take place from July 17 through July 22 and offers something for everyone. Even before the fair gates officially swing open, the World Championship Broken Horn Rodeo will fill the Grandstand arena at 7:30 p.m. July 15. This exciting event features two categories: Cowgirls Breakaway Roping and two divisions of Stick Horse Races for ages 5 and under and 6 through 9 years of age. Youngsters may be signed up for the Stick Horse Races before the “horses” leave the gate that evening. Wristbands for Tuesday’s Family Night, July 18, are $15 each. Wednesday, July 19 through Saturday, July 22, wristbands may be purchased for $18 each. For information regarding other special events and activities at this year’s Knox County Fair, log on to www.knoxcountyfarmfair.com or call the fair office at 812-735-2344.
There are many words that could be used to describe the Knox County Fair, and the one commonly heard is the word “reunion.” The fair is a time when residents from all the towns and cities across Knox County are able to meet in one location and to forget about the stress and strife of everyday life. It’s a place where one gets to visit with school friends and classmates whom one hasn’t seen since the last day of school. Work associates, neighbors and people who may have moved away from Knox County converge once a year on a small piece of land on the south side of Bicknell along Highway 67 to enjoy a few hours of great food, fun and entertainment.
Thousands of Knox County 4-H Club members for hundreds of years, have studied, learned and lived by the 4-H Club Pledge: “I pledge my HEAD to clearer thinking…my HEART to greater loyalty…my HANDS to larger service…and my HEALTH to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.” They’ve also learned and carried with them throughout their lifetimes the 4-H motto: “To Make the Best Better.” Make your plans now to visit this year’s Knox County Fair … you’ll be glad you did.
Knox County 4-H clubs
Decker/St. Thomas Club
Monroe City Club
North Knox Club
North Knox Mini Club
Our Gang Club
Vigo Powers Club
Vincennes Mini Club
Horse and Pony Club
Our Gang Club
2017 Knox County fair
July 17 – 22
July 15: World Championship Broken Horn Rodeo Grandstand arena, 7:30 p.m.
Cowgirls Breakaway Roping
Stick Horse Races, ages 5 and under and 6 through 9 years of age. Sign up children for the Stick Horse Races before the “horses” leave the gate that evening.
July 18: Family Night, wristbands $15 each.
July 19 – 22: Wristbands $18 each.
For information regarding other special events and activities at this year’s Knox County Fair, go to www.knoxcountyfarmfair.com or call the fair office at 812-735-2344.
By Dan Ravellette