Saturday afternoon at the Indiana Wild animal exhibition at the Allen County Fair, handler Missy North was holding a creature typically not seen in the Hoosier State.
That is, unless you happened to be in Whitley County last week, when a 5-foot-long relative was spotted, caught and dispatched as a danger to the public.
Yes, North was holding an alligator – although, at about 30 inches long, the creature was quite a bit smaller and less menacing than the one spotted in New Lake. That gator, officials said, was probably somebody’s pet that was let loose.
This alligator, named Dooney and about 4 years old, kept so still in North’s arms that one little onlooker was prompted to ask if it was stuffed.
Aspen Tone, 4, and Alexis Cobe, 4, both from Spencerville, Ohio, showed no fear as they stroked the gator’s tail.
“I thought they’d be scared, and they just went right up and petted an alligator. I’d never seen one up close like that before,” said Aspen’s mom, Amber Hallard.
Also gathering interest at the exhibition was a young armadillo named Dottie. Those who touched her reported she was surprisingly soft, her scales covered with fur.
North said she had bottle-fed the armadillo for several weeks, from the time she was “just a pink blob.”
A bearded dragon lizard named T. Rex and a ball python named Rio rounded out the animals on display.
The fair – with exhibitions of more typical animals such as goats, pigs, llamas and cows – ends at 5 p.m. today. Several discounts are being offered, said Michelle Love, who serves on the fairground’s board of directors.
Admission today is $5 with a donation of a nonperishable food item for Associated Churches’ neighborhood food banks and for active military personnel and veterans, she said, and fair rides will cost only one ticket.
Regular admission is $7, with children 5 and younger free. Parking is also free.
Attractions today include a nondenominational Cowboy Church service at 9 a.m., helicopter and monster truck rides and a birds of prey show and release by Soarin’ Hawk raptor rescue organization at 3 p.m.
The annual 4-H livestock auction will take place at 12:30 p.m. Monday.
“The week has been going really well,” she said Saturday. “It was a little warm early in the week, but it’s been nice. I think you could tell people missed the fair last year.”