July 21 Fair Vignettes

You name it, he can carve it

With a hunk of wood and a few chain saws, Mark Colp can make a masterpiece in about an hour. 

Wide-eyed fairgoers stopped to watch as Colp finished the details on a wooden wolf. During two days at the fair, he has created eight pieces of animals, tractors and other objects.

Colp works for French Lick-based Bear Hollow Wood Carvers, touring the country to carve at fairs and competitions. He spent two days at the Johnson County fair, and his pieces will be auctioned off at the fair this week.

The wood carver has been at his craft since he was a youngster, learning from his father, who is also a professional wood carver. It took him decades to gain enough skill to be able to travel around and make his carvings with the pressure of time and an audience, he said. 

He starts with a 24-inch saw to gouge out the basic shape of the wood and eventually whittles down to using an 8-inch chain saw to do detail work.

Colp worked meticulously with the smaller chainsaw to get the detail right on the wolf’s fur and to work on its eyes.

A wolf is one example of his work. He can carve just about anything, his wife, Barbara Colp, said.

“You think it, we can carve it,” she said.

Can you eat just one?

Don’t feel too guilty — the popular doughy treat you eat at the fair each year helps local youngsters.

The beaver tail, a deep-fried piece of dough covered in cinnamon and sugar, sold by the Center Grove Optimist Club, has been a mainstay at the fair since the early 1980s, club secretary and treasurer Mike Riley said.

Club members were looking for one fundraiser that would raise enough money for the year. Other fundraisers, such as raffles, weren’t bringing in enough money to stand on their own, he said.

“We were hungry, so food was the way to go,” he said.

They decided on another popular doughty treat, elephant ears first.

Those were trademarked, so they tweaked the recipe and came up with their own sweet concoction, said Alex Good, vice president of the club.

“The big difference between ours and others is the rising (of the dough), ” he said.

The first year they peddled their new treat at the fair the group made $600 for the week. Now, they usually make triple that per day, averaging about $1,800 a day.

Money from the $4 treat goes to children in the area.

The Center Grove Optimist Club sponsors Eagle Scout projects, Little League teams and other youth activities.

Volunteers from the groups they assist work their booth throughout the week, Riley said.

Often youngsters who were helped by the Center Grove Optimist Club come back and help when they are adults, member Bill Isbell said.

“It’s all about the community involvement,” he said.

Home away from home

When her horse injured itself in the stall in the middle of the night, Skylar Allman, 15, a home-schooled student, left her camper and spent the night nursing the animal.

Skylar and her family have been doing 4-H for seven years, and the family has parked a camper on the fairgrounds for fair week.

Camping on the fairgrounds is common among some dedicated 4-H families. Campers of all shapes and sizes dot the west side of the fairgrounds every year.

4-H’ers who show animals at the Johnson County fair have to care for the animals several times a day, identical to the care they get at home, Skylar said. Camping at the fairgrounds makes that job easier, she said.

“It’s so you can wake up and feed and take care of your horse,” she said.

Skylar rises every day around 7:30 a.m. to feed her horse, Tess. She then spends time brushing and washing the animal to get it ready for shows.

The last thing she does during the evening of the fair is feed her horse one last time. Caring for Tess the week of the fair is nearly a full-time job, with Skylar clocking six to seven hours a day with Tess.

“It’s nice to be here,” she said. “You never know what can happen.”

If you go

Today at the fair:

9 a.m. 4-H Beef Grooming Contest

4-H Beef Showmanship

4-H Born & Raised Steer Show

4-H Beef Heifer Show

4-H Supreme Heifer Show

(Indoor Arena-South End)

10 a.m. 4-H Sheep Breeding Stock Show

4-H Supreme Ram & Ewe

(Indoor Arena-North End)

10 to 11 a.m. RT2 (Read, Touch, Taste) children ages 5-7

Heritage Hall

11:30 a.m. 4-H & Open Class Exhibits open to the Public

Noon to 12:45 p.m. Strawberry Baking Contest Entry (Johnson County Extension Office)

1 to 5 p.m. Poor Jack Amusements


1 p.m. Strawberry Baking Contest Judging (Johnson County Extension Office)

(Sponsored by Johnson County Extension Homemakers)

1 p.m. 4-H Sheep Born & Raised Show

4-H Wool Show

4-H Overall Sheep Showmanship

(Indoor Arena-North End)

2 to 3 p.m. RT2 (Read, Touch, Taste) children ages 5-7

Heritage Hall

4 p.m. 4-H Swine Born & Bred Show

4-H Swine Gilt Show

(Indoor Arena-North End)

5 to 8 p.m.  Cooking Demonstrations (Farm Bureau Building)

5 p.m. 4-H Meat Goat Judging

4-H Goat Overall Grand Champion

4-H Goat Showmanship

(Indoor Arena-South End)

5 p.m. 4-H Horse & Pony -Costume & Musical Freestyle (Horse Arena)

6 p.m. Registration for Pedal Tractor Pull

$1/per child, maximum weight is 85 lbs.

6:30 p.m. Dumpster Drummers (Concert Stage) Sponsored by Jo. Co. Recycling District

7 p.m. Pedal Tractor Pull (Farm Bureau back lot)

7 p.m. Horseshoe Pitching (west of the Fair Office)

7 p.m. Battle of the Bluegrass – Truck & Tractor Pulls (local Farmstock)

(Grandstands) Admission: $10.00/adults, $5.00/kids 12 & under

Author photo
Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.