As the 27th annual Allen County Fair opens Tuesday, Jerry Hammon, board member for the Allen County Fairgrounds, assures that it will continue to deliver what it does best, from the midway to hot air balloons to 4-H events.
"We’re a family friendly-oriented place, where families feel safe and have a good time," he says.
Locals might not see significant changes this year, but there are a series of smaller adjustments that range from the competitive games to the layout of the fair that bring along some new features to the six-day event.
One of the new features will be free monster truck rides for children ages 12 and younger as the fair kicks off its first evening of events on Tuesday. The rides will be available from 6 to 10 p.m.
"We just thought it would be a good thing that would be inexpensive and possibly bring families out, and it’s a good thing to give back to community," Hammon says.
The fair will celebrate Indiana’s Bicentennial on Wednesday with presentations from the Indiana Bicentennial Allen County coordinator Curt Witcher and artist Gwen Gutwein, who painted historic barns in each county for The Heritage Barns of Indiana Project. The project has been honored as a Bicentennial Legacy Project.
Allen County’s Bicentennial Bison statue also will be in attendance on Wednesday.
Hammon says the fair’s committee also decided to move the midway toward the entrance of the fairgrounds this year.
"We just thought it might be a better draw with the colorful lights up front where people can see them, and the music of the Merry-Go-Round," Hammon says. "We feel like it’s a really good thing that people enjoy our midway, so we wanted to highlight it a bit.
The fair will also be adding some new competitions to the schedule of Redneck Relays and Pig Wrestling.
On Saturday, the fair will bring back "Tug-A-Truck" for the first time in a few years, Hammon says. The rules for Tug-A-Truck are pretty much stated in the name. Drivers, pitted against trucks of the same weight classification, must pull the opposing truck 10 feet. The winner will have the best two out of three pulls.
The fair will also debut the Outhouse Races on Sunday. Teams made of three pushers and one "throne" rider will have to maneuver an obstacle course in homemade outhouses that must feature a toilet seat for the rider.
Hammons says its the fair’s eccentric competitions that continues to draw in the community.
"I think a lot of people like something they can do, and have fun with, without spending a lot of money," he says. "If you can come up with an event that has competition in it and involves family, or just members of a team, that will help draw people to your event, because with each person, somebody is going to come watch them, whether it’s parents or grandparents, brother and sisters, aunts and uncles. We like to have events like that."