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Fair tradition spans 50 years

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Activities scheduled Monday through Saturday

By Amber Coulter

Hardin County is celebrating 50 years of rides, cotton candy, games, livestock shows and tractor pulls.

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County fairs existed before the summer of 1963, but they were more loosely organized, fair board President Larry Jaggers said.

“We know there have been fairs in Hardin County for years and years and then some more years,” he said.

In 1963, 10 Hardin County residents decided to reorganize the fair under the bylaws that still govern it today, Jaggers said.

Documents from the time suggest there might have been issues with stockholders of the fair or dwindling interest in organizing it, but they’re not clear about what prompted the change, he said.

That history doesn’t make the date less significant, Jaggers said.

“It just kind of gives us a landmark to start with, is what we’re saying,” he said. “We know there have been fairs for years. We just wanted to kind of feature that this group called it the Hardin County Community Fair and reorganized and started it as we know it today.”

The tradition of county gatherings lives on in some of the events set for this week’s fair.

The 1963 fair guide lists canning, a tractor pull, needle craft and various other events that have survived the 50-year gap.

At 83 years old, Margaret Bailey isn’t interested in fast rides or some of the other fair attractions.

For the master gardener of 14 years, entering plants in competitions is a major draw at the fair. 

Bailey, of Eastview, likes the potential of winning ribbons and seeing other entries.

“We’ve got some people that can really grow beautiful plants,” she said.

Lori Timbers, of Elizabethtown, has been entering her vegetables and canned goods for several years.

“In a way, I guess it’s just a little satisfaction for all the hard work you do in gardening,” she said.

Since then, Timbers and her husband have been entering contests and getting to know other participants. One of the master gardeners she met starts the tomato plants Timbers puts in her garden.

Timbers is disappointed her husband’s shoulder injury and unrelenting rain have made them unable to enter anything in this year’s fair, especially after winning a blue ribbon last year for a basket of assorted fruits and vegetables.

Because the couple’s children are grown, looking at the exhibits and mingling with other entrants is mostly what draws them to the fair.

The categories have good participation, and an increasing number of participants are entering every year, Timbers said.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” she said. “You certainly don’t do it for the money or anything. It’s just the community feel.”

Jaggers periodically lays out all the preserved fair guides he can find to reflect on the past and hunt for inspiration for the future.

A lifelong Glendale resident, Jaggers has been on the fair board since 1976 and became chairman and fair manager in 1980.

He can identify the three county fair pageant winners who went on the win the state competition and the year the Miss Teen Hardin County Fair competition began. He remembers a year when stove boiled hot dogs made up a large part of the fair concessions.

Jaggers isn’t sure what brings crowds back each year to enjoy the time-tested events, games and rides.

“We like to think it’s because those are the things they enjoy,” he said. “We like to think that they, too, see some heritage and that that’s their interest.”

Fair board treasurer Marty Fulkerson, said every year he sees a mom, dad and child walking somewhere with a stuffed animal.

“It makes you realize that maybe for them, this is their Disney World trip,” he said. “Maybe it is. I don’t know. That’s why I do it. I’m blessed, and I know that. Maybe we’re blessing some by allowing them to have some fun.”

Jaggers gets a few calls each year asking when the next fair is so the callers can schedule their vacations during that week.

Brenda Heady, 1963 Miss Hardin County Fair, said she always looked forward to the fair, before and after it was reorganized.

The Elizabethtown resident said the yearly events broke up the monotony that sometimes accompanied having no car and living on her family’s Sonora farm.

At 15 years old, Heady thought entering the competition would be fun, so she borrowed a swim suit from a friend, bought false fingernails and got a new sundress from her mother.

“It was a big deal at the time,” she said.

Heady remembers changing clothes in a gas station bathroom to avoid wrinkling her pageant duds. She wore no makeup.

Heady couldn’t believe it when she was chosen out of about 25 girls.

“I was just stunned,” she said. “That’s all I can say. It really shocked me.”

That win kicked off a string of other pageant showings and a modeling career.

Watching modern pageants, Heady marvels at the swimsuits and heavy makeup that would have been outrageous when she competed.

She still loves visiting the county fair every year.

She met her future father-in-law there, has towed her children along the midway and plans to take her granddaughter this year.

“I really think that the county fair is something that holds the community together,” she said. “You have everybody that wants to be involved.”

Fairs have long been effective places to advertise goods and services, he said.

“If you look in all the past history, you’re going to find fairs since Biblical times,” he said.

That tradition continues today, including the showing of livestock, he said.

The number of people interested in entering their livestock for judging has dropped in proportion to the trend of fewer people entering the farming industry.

Still, the fair has continued to make a place for displaying the animals and fulfilling an important role in the community by doing so, Fulkerson said.

Some visitors to the fair, especially those from Fort Knox and throughout the nation, say they or their children have never seen a cow, a pig or other typical farm animals, he said.

Livestock shows used to take place during the day. Many have since been moved to the evening to give attendees the chance to see animals they might never have seen in person.

It’s important the county fair provide education about the way so many residents earn a living and provide for consumers throughout the world, Fulkerson said.

“It’s our heritage,” he said. “It’s who we are, and it’s a way to celebrate that.”

Some of the biggest changes made in the past 50 years have been to fair facilities.

The event moved in 1964 to its current location in Glendale from where it was previously located, behind Southern States in Elizabethtown.

A new livestock facility and an exhibition building are new to this year’s fair after they were destroyed in a storm two years ago.

Also, air conditioning has been added to fair buildings during the past half century.

Jaggers said the buildings were so hot one year the candle entries melted and the cake entries fell.

Now, he sometimes hears complaints that the air conditioning makes the buildings uncomfortably cool.

It’s hard for Jaggers to predict what changes the next 50 years might bring and whether some of the longstanding events and traditions will carry forward to then.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’d like to say you’ll probably see some of this throughout. I guess it’s hard to speak for the future.”

The fair begins Monday and runs through Saturday. Admission is $9.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746

or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.

Calendar of events

Monday

Entry Day for Exhibits   10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

4-H Entry Day  10 a.m.-4 p.m.

FFA Entry Day 1:30 – 7 p.m.

Culinary Department     4:30 p.m.

Flower Department Judging       4:30 p.m.

Garden & Fruit Judging  4:30 p.m.

No Joes Clown Circus   6-9 p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Parent/Child Look-A-Like          7:30 p.m.

KOTTPA Truck Pull     7:30 p.m.

Miss Hardin County Fair Pageant           8 p.m.

Hardin County Miniature Horse Show    8 p.m.

 

Tuesday

WLVK Big Cat 105.5 Day $1.00 Off Coupon Night

Family Living Department & Fine Arts Judging   9 a.m.

Hardin Co. Youth Project Completion Show        2 p.m.

No Joes Clown Circus   6-9 p.m.

Hardin Co. Youth Project Completion Sale          7 p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 and 9 p.m.

Cute Couple Contest (Married 50 Years or More)           7:30 p.m.

ORVTTA Tractor Pull  7:30 p.m.

MissTeen Hardin CountyPageant         7:30 p.m.

Draft Horse Show         8 p.m.

UCW Professional Wrestling     8 p.m.

 

Wednesday

The News Enterprise $1.00 Off Coupon Night

Youth Beef Cattle Show                        6 p.m.

No Joes Clown Circus   6-9 p.m.

Preditor Monster Truck Rides    6-10 p.m.

Baby Contest, Division I            6:30 p.m.

Antique Tractor Pull      7 p.m.

Preditor Monster Truck Show    9 p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Western Horse Show    7:30 p.m.

UCW Professional Wrestling     8 p.m.

 

Thursday

WQXE/WULF Military Appreciation Night $1.00 Off

Coupon Night

Fairbear & Fairabear     5:30 p.m.

Youth Dairy Cattle Show           6 p.m.

HMH Wellness on Wheels         6-8 p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Heartland Songwriters Association Jam  7:30 p.m.

Battle of the Bluegrass Pulling Series Truck & Tractor Pull         8 p.m.

Gaited Horse Show       8 p.m.

 

Friday

Tiny Miss & Mister - Division II 6:30 p.m.

Kids Pedal Pull  7 p.m.

WKMO Karaoke Contest          7p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Mud Sling         7:30 p.m.

Draft Horse and Mule Show      7:30 p.m.

Little Miss & Mister Pageant     8 p.m.

Cow Pattie Bingo          8 p.m.

Gaited Horse Show       8p.m.

 

Saturday

4-H Rabbit Show           10 a.m.

Princess & Prince of Hardin County 6 p.m.

Mark Comley Magic Show        7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Demolition Derby           7:30 p.m.

MissPre-Teen Hardin CountyPageant   8:00 p.m.

HWY 210 Hillbilly Stompers      8:00 p.m.

Gaited Horse Show       8:00 p.m.

Tennessee Bound Band 8:00 p.m.

 

Sunday

Exhibit Pick-up  1-3 p.m.