Unlocking the mystery of the Putnam County Fair

Thursday, June 29, 2017

In just four weeks, the community will find itself in the middle of the county reunion known as the Putnam County Fair. There is more than a century of documented history of county fairs. Despite in the early 1900’s when pundits said county fairs were a fad that would run their course and cease to exist, most fairs continually adapted to remain a central community event. Many fairs were started by agricultural societies and later merged with other fairs to form a county fair. There are 92 counties in Indiana and there are roughly 92 different ways that fairs are organized in Indiana. Let’s take a look at the Putnam County Fair.

Our local fairgrounds is not county property despite the common misnomer. The Putnam County Fair & 4-H Club Association, Inc. (dba Putnam County Fairboard) owns the private property and is governed by a roughly 35-member board consisting of township representatives, at large members, barn superintendents, and organizational representatives. Putnam County government officials have helped financially on a couple occasions with fairgrounds projects since they also use the facility for events like the elections. However, since 2004, there has been no annual funding of the fairgrounds or its functions by county government or other branches of government for that matter. The Fairboard works to raise funds to maintain and further develop the facility.

Bylaws of the Fairboard spell out the purpose of the organization in two simple statements as follows: 1) To foster, encourage and promote interest in the improvement and production of better livestock and agricultural products among both 4-H and adult groups. 2) To hold and conduct fairs at which livestock and agricultural, industrial, and domestic products will be exhibited or shown in competition for prizes among both 4-H and adult club groups.

The county fair is a showcase for 4-H’ers in Putnam County to exhibit their project work for public display. The same would be true for adult groups like the adult open class area in the east of the York Automotive Family Community Building or the horticulture and ag area in Harris Hall. As such 4-H’ers and these adult groups are guests of the Fairboard as the purpose of the organization is carried out during the year with meetings and events.

There are many organizational roles associated with the fair. In the case of Putnam County, the Fairboard is an actual 4-H affiliate with its tax EIN being under the general exemption number of Purdue University’s 501(c)3 status. This was critically important eligibility wise to the Fairboard when the east side of the York Automotive Family Community Building was built in 1999 with Build Indiana funds generated by the Hoosier Lottery. However, Purdue University or Purdue Extension is not in charge of the county fair as the Fairboard has many events that have no affiliation with Purdue.

With so many groups involved, it may be confusing when trying to figure out who you are going to call… While no ghost busters are involved with the mystery, here is a quick list of contacts: Commercial Tent, Gene Grable 720-2326; Baby Contest, Kelly Robertson 720-7168; Food Vendors, Dale Jessup 653-9459; Parade Committee, Nancy Michael 720-1974, Queen Contest, Stephanie Alcorn 366-6799; Cheerleading Contest, Gene Grable 720-2326; Camping, Steve Greeson 721-1567; Adult Open Class, Jennifer Cannon 653-8411; Hort/Ag Open Class, Jenna Nees 653-8411; and 4-H Youth, Mark Evans 653-8411.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 653-8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to make contact first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs.

Upcoming Events:

June 29 – Youth Pork Quality Assurance 4-H First Year, Fairgrounds, 6 p.m.

July 5 – Cake Decorating 4-H Project Workshop, Harris Hall, 6 p.m.

July 6 – Public Speaking, Demonstration 4-H Contest, Fairgrounds, 5 p.m.

July 6 – Summer Judging 4-H Activity, Fairgrounds, 6:30 p.m.

July 15 – Tractor Driving Contest 4-H, Fairgrounds, 8 a.m.

July 15 – Shooting Sports Firearms Round Robin, Cloverdale Conservation Club, 8:30 a.m.

July 16 – Dog Obedience 4-H Show, Fairgrounds, Noon

July 17 – Cat 4-H Show, Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.

July 17 – Fashion Revue 4-H Public Show, Fairgrounds, 7 p.m.

July 18 – Project Judging 4-H, Fairgrounds 4-7 p.m.

July 19 – Project Judging 4-H, Fairgrounds 4-7 p.m.

July 20 – Project Judging 4-H, Fairgrounds, 4-7 p.m.

July 21 – 4-H Fair Parade, Downtown, 6 p.m.

July 21-28 Putnam County 4-H Fair

Aug 4-20 Indiana State Fair

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