Butch Hacker to serve as parade grand marshal

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
A longtime volunteer and supporter of the 4-H Fair, Butch Hacker is set to serve as the 2024 Putnam County Fair Parade grand marshal on Sunday, July 14.

There are a lot of reasons people get involved and stay involved with the Putnam County 4-H Fair.

For Butch Hacker, after decades of involvement, the reason is pretty simple: He loves people, particularly kids.

“People have kept me involved. I love people, and the more I can make them smile, the better I enjoy it,” Hacker said. “Once a year — you’d be surprised — there are a lot of people you never see until fair time. They all come once a year and you see them at the fair.”

With the fair fast approaching, there are two places Hacker is sure to be found. One is at the Milk Barn, with which he’s been involved for at least 30 years.

The other will be perched atop a wagon as the 2024 Putnam County 4-H Fair Parade grand marshal.

The parade is set to commence at 2 p.m. on Sunday, July 14 along an alternate route due to road construction downtown.

Parade entries will start at the intersection of Wood and Seminary streets, proceeding west on Seminary, across U.S. 231/Bloomington Street until reaching Locust Street, where it will turn south, proceeding past Gobin Church, East College and the DePauw University Union Building before the parade ends at Hanna Street.

Reflecting on the honor of being grand marshal, Hacker employed a bit of the self-depracating humor for which he’s known around the community.

“It ain’t soaked in yet. I thought there were a lot more people that deserved it besides me. But I’ll take it,” Hacker said. “I love kids and love people.”

Those loves have translated to something like 50 or 60 years of involvement in the fair, from his own time in 4-H on up to bringing his two daughters, My (Hacker) Gilley and Robin (Hacker) McGaughey through the program.

“We had a lot to do with 4-H,” Hacker recalled. “We were in the sheep barn, were in the hog barn. Finally got to the cattle barn but we waited too late to start that. Somebody that’s going to show cattle ought to start when they’re young and come up with the calves.”

Reflecting on his own childhood in the Belle Union area, Hacker recalled he and his nine siblings being too poor to show any large livestock.

“We were a poor family, so we couldn’t afford pigs and cattle,” Hacker said. “We probably wouldn’t have showed them anyway — they were there to eat.”

Still, the Hacker siblings were involved in projects involving tractor driving and maintenance as well as gardening and poultry.

The 1961 Belle Union High School graduate married wife Gypsy, and the family moved to Brick Chapel in 1968. Besides working for General Motors for 32 years, Butch also farmed with his father-in-law.

That’s the location where they raised My and Robin, as well as bringing them up through 4-H.

Along the way, that got Butch involved at the fair as sheep barn superintendent, open class exhibitor, tractor club assistant and tractor pull assistant.

“They wanted me to be assistant to the horse pull, but I avoided that,” Hacker said. “Sometimes when you’re assistant to the horse pull, you have to hook up the horses.”

He has also remained involved as a member of the parade committee for the last 15-20 years.

Hacker is happy to have avoided service on the Fair Board itself, as he served as sheep superintendent before that meant an automatic appointment.

“I thought I was being smart by not getting on the Fair Board,” he said.

For the last few decades or so, Hacker is synonymous with the Milk Barn, serving up cold glasses of white and chocolate right in between the Legionburger and Producers buildings.

“I was in there with all of them for a long time with Frys, Berkshires and all of them all people,” Hacker said. “Then me and Virgil (Arnold) ran it.

“When Virgil quit, I’ve had it by himself for the last 10 years or so.”

It’s a way to stay connected to kids, something he’s loved for all these years. Outside of 4-H, he coached slow pitch softball and served as a bus driver for North Putnam Schools for 25 years. He was also heavily involved with the North Putnam band when John T. Wilson was the director.

“There wasn’t anything like taking a trip with Mr. Wilson,” Hacker recalled. “He was just one man, so a lot of parents like us would pitch in. He got a lot of things out of kids that none of us could get.”

Looking forward to Sunday, Hacker expects a good day with his family

“I have six sisters and brothers still living, and I’m hoping they’ll be on the float with me,” Hacker said.

While Gypsy passed away in 2016, Butch also expect to have his kids and four grandchildren with him as well.

“I thought we’d have some great-grandkids by now, but I think that’s over the board,” he said with a laugh. “They don’t even talk about it.”

As for the different route, neither Butch nor daughter My seems too concerned.

“Everybody’s worried about the different route,” he said.

“I drove it last night,” My said. “It actually has the potential to be better.”

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  • Couldn't of picked a more deserving man.

    -- Posted by equip on Mon, Jul 8, 2024, at 6:52 PM
  • We may have to go to the parade just to see Butch! A great neighbor.

    -- Posted by lmyers2 on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 6:49 AM
  • He is a great man and an iconic staple of the fair for sure!!!

    -- Posted by Ins_agent63 on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 8:30 AM
  • Great choice! Have fun Butch!

    -- Posted by mamawjane1951 on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 8:47 AM
  • Yay,Butch! Congratulations!

    -- Posted by CarolynCarson on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 1:51 PM
  • A fitting & well-deserved honor. Congratulations Butch!

    -- Posted by Kbrack on Tue, Jul 9, 2024, at 2:14 PM
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