Fun at the Fair

From volunteer efforts to visitors’ experiences: 2023 Johnson County Fair festivities recapped

By Sherri Coner

When fair week finally arrives in mid-July, everyone knows that elbow grease and teamwork is required. Fair week brings long days, hard work, some sunburn and a lot of laughter.

Indian Creek High School cheerleaders show up every year to collect the money at the gate.

Indian Creek soccer players and volleyball players take charge of parking fairgoers.

Early every morning, the school’s football team picks up litter and overflowing trash cans.

All of them are very appreciated. And of course, they are paid for working.

Every evening, the Indian Creek Braves Backers, parents raising money for post prom, are on the Midway, selling tickets.

All 21 members of the fair board, including fair board president, Matt Davis of Hopewell, put in long double-digit days and evenings.

Johnson County Fair Board President Matt Davis. (Submitted Photos)

It is definitely a labor of love.

All of these organizations, athletes and board members, not to mention the number of parents who take vacation from their jobs in order to be in the barns with their kids and others, too, all of them have their own reasons for why they love fair the Johnson County 4-H & Agricultural Fair.

Dubbed simply “fair food,” the week begins and ends in a regular heaven filled with deep-fried choices, cotton candy, elephant ears, milkshakes and anything else we ignore during any other week of the year.

This is the week when a lot of fairgoers spot old friends in the crowd; the same old friends they haven’t seen since last year in this same time and place.

Young parents stand a few steps away from grandparents, cameras poised, and ready, as pink-cheeked little people wave from the merry-go-round and other children’s rides.

It’s the week when the family budget keeper says absolutely nothing about how they spent more than 20 bucks so their child could win a $2 fish in a carnival game. This is the week that dollar signs don’t matter nearly as much as excited jumping up and down by children who won.

It was a ride called the Crazy Bus and it fit
the Sciba family perfectly! Ryan and Briana Sciba with their kids, Brynny, 3, and Rune, 5, and grandma, Becky Sciba, all of Greenwood.

For 2023, three new food trucks were on the scene, including Antojitos Rosita, Gestner Homemade and Pap’s Kettle Pop.

Along with steadfast forever-at-the-fair events, such as the fair queen contest, the Little Miss and Mr. contest, the pet parade, dirt drags, livestock auctions and demolition derby, some activities were repeats from 2022, such as the Norse Woodsmen carvers and Barnyard Party Pals.

Others were first-timers, such as axe-throwing and glass blowing presentations.

“We had a really good fair,” Davis said. “We don’t charge by the person; we charge by the parking.”

Definitely, there was an increase in parking from last year.

All smiles all the time, Jordyn Vandivier, 16 months, daughter of Jake and Jennifer Vandivier of Franklin was named the 2023 baby contest winner.

“But nothing was as good as 2021,” Davis said. “That was an exceptional fair.”

Davis grew up in a farm family and 4-H was a huge part of his childhood.  Today he continues to farm, and he has been a fair board member for 21 years.

This year, Davis’ 9-year-old daughter stepped into the indoor arena for the first time to show a couple of steers.

Maybe his little girl’s excitement about that experience is a hint for Davis and so many other 4-H members and their families that farming as they knew remains important to Johnson County.

“It’s kind of amazing that we have all the livestock during the fair that we have, as close as we are to Indianapolis,” Davis said. “We’re hangin’ on strong.”