Attending the Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair is a summertime ritual for thousands of area residents.

While the emphasis remains on the county’s agricultural heritage, organizers are constantly tweaking its slate of entertainment options to keep people amused even when the livestock shows aren’t going on.

Midway carnival rides and go-kart races go along with nightly rock, country and gospel concerts. Watermelon-seed spitting contests, CrossFit competitions and the ever popular tractor pulls draw a crowd.

The fair’s main attraction may be in the barn, but even if you’re not into cattle, hogs or goats, attendees can find something exciting everywhere on the fairgrounds.

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For Brett Jones, chairman of the grandstand events at the fair, planning the entertainment opportunities for fairgoers means finding family-friendly activities that appeal to all ages and all types of people.

Motorsports typically fit the bill best.

“Johnson County has a great reputation for being one of the best demolition derbies in the state, and therefore we see our biggest crowds on Friday and Saturday night,” Jones said. “That’s followed closely by the two nights of truck and tractor pulling.”

The demolition derby and tractor pulls are two of fairs most long-standing events. Jones also has added newer activities as well, including AutoCross, a lawnmower derby and go-karts.

Monster trucks will be featured for the first time this year, and fairgoers will have the opportunity to sit in the “ride truck,” to see what the competitors will go through later that night.

“Folks will get to experience firsthand what it’s like. I hope that it’s a big hit with children and adults alike,” Jones said.

Organizers have also put a greater emphasis on music at the fairgrounds. While the grandstands aren’t equipped to handle large-scale concerts, smaller stages have been set up elsewhere at the fair to provide nightly music.

Performers such as the Blue River Band, Cook & Belle and Sweet Miss Dixie will be playing free shows nightly. Regular gospel shows will be conducted in the A tent, set up just north of Scott Hall.

Other activities, ranging from cooking demonstrations to chainsaw artistry to a cooking competition featuring strawberries, also have been planned for fair week.

Since nearly everything that organizers have scheduled will be conducted outdoors, it’s important to remember the unpredictability of central Indiana summers, Jones said.

Boiling heat in the 90s can give way to threatening thunderstorms in a matter of minutes, so all of the fair activities need to flex with the weather.

“With our facility not being ‘weatherproof,’ you have to take into consideration the opportunity for Mother Nature to intervene with your plans. You have to be able to adapt to that if and when it happens,” Jones said. “Most activities that we schedule can accommodate that.”

If you go

Best of the Best

Here are the highlights in entertainment this year at the Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair:

All-terrain vehicle and truck flat drag races

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Grandstand

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under.

Fireworks display

When: Dark Sunday

Where: Shooting off from the northwest corner of the fairgrounds

Cost: Free

Live concerts

Where: Concert stage


• Indy Spotlight, 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday

• Blue River Band, 7 p.m. Monday

• Dumpster Drummers, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

• Cook & Belle, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday

• Rural Route 3, 7 p.m. July 23

• Sweet Miss Dixie, 7 and 9 p.m. July 24

• Christine Nicole, 5 to 8 p.m. July 25

Cost: Free

Poor Jack Amusements Midway specials

• Monday: Family Night, 6 p.m. to close, $20 unlimited ride bracelet

• Tuesday: Kiddies Day, 1 to 5 p.m., $15 ride bracelet

• Wednesday and July 23: Moonlight Madness, 7 p.m. to close, $20 unlimited ride bracelet

• July 24 and 25: Weekend Madness, 6 p.m. to close, $22 unlimited ride bracelet

• July 25: Kiddies Day, 1 to 5 p.m., $15 ride bracelet

Gospel music

When: 6:30 to 10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, July 23 to 25.

Where: A tent, north of Scott Hall

Cost: Free

Battle of the Bluegrass truck and tractor pulls

When: 7 p.m. Monday and Tuesday

Where: Grandstand

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Strawberry baking contest

When: Entries accepted from noon to 12:55 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Johnson County Extension office, in the northeast corner of the fairgrounds

Cost: Free to enter; see rules at

CrossFit and Strongman Challenge

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Grandstand

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

AutoCross, Youth Derby, Mini-Monster Trucks and Monster Truck Show

When: 7 p.m. July 23

Where: Grandstand

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Demolition Derby Pro Class Rules, Gut-N-Go and Lawnmower Derby

When: 7 p.m. July 24 and 25

Where: Grandstand

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 and under

Watermelon seed-spitting contest

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Farm Bureau back lot

Cost: Free entry; kids ages 5 to 10, separated into three classes

Cooking demonstrations

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday through July 25

Where: Farm Bureau Building

Cost: Free

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.