By JEROD CLAPP
She said it wasn’t as hot as the year she and other 4-H’ers fried eggs on pavement around the fairgrounds, but Jennifer Lynch said the heat for this year’s Clark County 4-H Fair was more than hot enough.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], it was kind hard to leave the shade,” Lynch, 22, of Charlestown, said.
“If you weren’t next to the building, it could get hot really quickly”
Temperatures reached or topped 90 for this year’s fair. While it’s not as hot as it’s been before, some veterans of the exhibitions said they’ve seen a trend in rising heat over the years.
John Neofes, chairman of the dairy barn, said in his 47 years attending, competing and working in the fair, he thinks it keeps getting hotter.
“This climate has really changed around here, so you’ve really got to take care of the animals in this heat,” Neofes, 63, said. “We’ve been getting hotter summers than in years before.”
Bob Allen, Clark County Purdue Extension director, said though high temperatures tend to bring in smaller crowds, this year’s attendance has been about on par with last year.
He said along with that, he can’t recall any heat-related emergencies this week or any problems with the animals, aside from one hog that overheated during a competition.
“It was sweltering Tuesday night, but our exhibitors have done a great job,” Allen said. “We haven’t lost any animals or had them in extreme distress. As hot and humid as it’s been, we’re very fortunate to not have any incidents.”
Judy Popp, a worker in the food-stand building, said a lot of the people who come to the fair work on farms anyway and are accustomed to the heat. But she said her stand has seen increased sales in bags of ice for exhibitors to use for their animals.
“The livestock families are here all day, pretty much,” Popp said. “You have to keep an eye on them all day in this heat. That’s part of the responsibility of owning animals.”
But exhibitors found ways to keep cool. Lynch, a 4-H leader, said along with making sure their livestock had enough water, 4-H’ers readied water balloons for Thursday’s annual 4-H Fun Night.
Dakota Dieterlen, 18, of New Washington, said he’s competed in the fair every year, except for this one, since he was 7 or 8 years old. Even though the mercury kept climbing, he said the fair crowds kept coming in.
“This only happens once a year. They like to see what ribbons their friends and family get,” Dieterlen said. “But they also like to see what’s available to buy before it goes up for auction.”
Allen said he’s seen cases where three generations of a family show up at the same fair. He said it all boils down to what’s important to people in the area.
“It’s tradition around these parts,” Allen said. “I’ve had people who come in from several different counties just to say hi to old friends or old college roommates.
“All you have to do is step into the barns and see, in some cases, great-grandparents helping out.”