Off to a soggy start

A week before the fair was scheduled to open, water covered the midway and reached into the indoor arena at the Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Heavy rain and standing water left the fairgrounds too saturated to set up tents and the midway, fair board President Larry Vandenberg said.

When the rides for the midway arrived early last week, Vandenberg wouldn’t let Poor Jack Amusements set up because the ground was so saturated that semis transporting the rides would have destroyed the grounds, he said.

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So, Poor Jack Amusements waited for the standing water to recede and the ground to stabilize and then brought about 50 sheets of plywood to park their trailers on so they wouldn’t get stuck or destroy the grass, he said.

The indoor arena had 4 inches of standing water until the city helped clear the storm drain that had caused the backup.

“I’ve been on the fair board for 21 years, and I’d never seen so much water in the indoor arena,” Vandenberg said.

Setting up tents for vendors took almost three days because of the water and the saturated ground, he said. Some tents were set up in the water to stay on schedule and be ready when vendors arrived.

As of Wednesday, the grounds were muddy, but the standing water was gone. And the forecast for the remainder of the fair is dry with sunshine.

“We used a lot of mulch this year to make sure the areas were dry,” Vandenberg said. “We’re very fortunate we’re going to have a nice weekend of weather.”

Goats get a bad rap

Chairs, ear tags, extension cords, ribbons and clothing are items you might see goats chewing on, but contrary to common belief, goats will not eat anything and everything.

Bonnie Thompson of Franklin has been showing goats at the Johnson County fair for 17 years. And for the past 11 years, she has set up next to her friend, Carri Guyer, of Trafalgar, who also shows goats.

If a goat is chewing on clothes or cords or chairs, it’s not because they are a bottomless pit, they said.

Goats are just mischievous, and sometimes when they get anxious or bored, they’ll gnaw on whatever is nearby, they said.

Except for the Boer goat, or meat goat, Thompson said. They don’t have any sense of feeling full, and if you leave food out, they’ll eat it all, she said.

Some goats have been known to chew ear tags off other goats at the fair or extension cords from the fans in their pens, they said.

“Goats are like kids,” Guyer said. “They’re all mischievous. What they eat and how much just depends on what environment you leave them in.”

Monkey business

Norris Welch has traveled the United States with his Capuchin monkeys, Jo Jo and Buddy, for 30 years. But this the first time they stopped at the Johnson County fair.

Welch said he spends five to six hours a day training his monkeys. Jo Jo is the elder monkey at 30 years old and tipping his hat to spectators is his primary trick, Welch said.

So far, Jo Jo and Buddy have been a big hit at the fair, especially among kids, he said. Welch brings the monkeys out in the afternoon and shows them during the evening.

Welch has shown his monkeys in all 48 contiguous states in the U.S.

No horsing around

Kacey Strouse didn’t bring her horses to the Johnson County fair for show; she brought them to win.

Kacey, 14, of Greenwood, a fourth-year 4-H’er, has more than 300 ribbons from horse competitions.

She barrel races and show jumps and has participated in almost 20 events at the fair, placing in every one so far and winning four.

Occasionally, Kacey will find free time to play cards with friends or walk the midway with other competitors and 4-H’ers.

But if it’s a competition day, she said, she’s at the stalls at 6 a.m. cleaning, feeding and exercising her horses.

— Compiled by Abby Armbruster

If you go

At The Fair

11 a.m.: 4-H and FFA Livestock Judging Contest (all species)(Indoor Arena)


5:30 – 7 pm: Rural Route 3 Concert (Concert Stage)

6 pm: 4-H Horse & Pony – Contesting Division (Horse Arena)

7 pm: Farmer’s Olympics (Indoor Arena)

7 pm: AutoCross – Youth Derby – Mini-Monster Trucks-Monster Truck Show (Grandstands) Admission: $10/adults – $5.00/kids 12 & under

Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.