The Bartholomew County 4-H Fair will host a professional rodeo during its nine-day run June 24-July 2, the fair’s first rodeo in more than 20 years.
The Three Bar J Rodeo, based in northeast Indiana, will feature traditional events such as bareback and saddle riding, bull riding, cowgirl barrel racing, wrestling steer, girls in breakaway roping, calf roping and team roping.
The rodeo will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 27 at Tony Stewart Speedway – also known as the grandstands.
One of the highlights of the 64th annual fair takes place almost a week before the official opening. A total of 13 contestants entered the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Contest which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 18 inside the auditorium at Columbus North High School.
For those heading downtown when it first opens at 5 p.m. on June 24, a $30 wristband will provide unlimited rides on Friday nights. Entertainment highlights include Jeff Bodart’s Family Friendly comedy show at 7 p.m. at the David Boll Theater, as well as singer Louie Green performing at 7 p.m. in the Farm Bureau Building.
If the weather cooperates, the biggest crowd on opening night is likely to be drawn to the Demolition Derby which begins at 7 p.m. at Stewart Speedway. It has become a tradition to hold a demolition derby on the first and last night of the fair, former chairman of the fair’s board, Mark Case, said in an earlier interview.
On June 25, the popular 4-H Horse and Pony Western Halter and Performance show begins at 8 a.m. Later in the afternoon, the midway opens at 2 p.m. Midway rides will require varying numbers of tickets during the day, but a $20 wristband will allow unlimited rides from 8 p.m. to midnight. Meanwhile, the popular Night Owl Country Band will perform a sold-out concert beginning at 7 p.m. at the Boll Theatre.
At the same time, there will be a Full Throttle Monster Trucks competition at Stewart Speedway. With names like Nitro Menace, Predator, Stomper, and Jailbird, these modified pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles compete in both racing and freestyle stunt driving.
The “Tony” Question
Fans of Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner and Columbus native Tony Stewart usually flood the grandstand during the All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midgets. Fundraising for the Tony Stewart Foundation begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 at the Tony Stewart Highway.
In recent years, fans have seen three-time NASCAR Cup champion Stewart make an appearance or race. Last year he won his 25-lap race last summer just hours after the facility was renamed in his honour.
But will “Smoke” be at the show this year? Fair officials often answer this question with a shrug.
“Some things we just don’t know until the day of the event,” Clouse said.
Top Rated Midway
For the second consecutive year, the midway will be operated by Kissell Entertainment. Last year, the entire fair board was overwhelmed with the respect Kissell employees treated the public, Clouse said.
“But above all, we were impressed with what they brought,” she said.
Clouse refers to the average of 45 thrill, family and children’s rides available at each show site, as well as more than 30 games and a wide variety of food.
The midway normally draws the biggest crowd for its nine-day run on Wednesday of the fair week which is June 29. On what is traditionally called Family Day, $20 wristbands offer unlimited rides from 2 p.m. until closing.
People concerned about COVID-19 have the option of whether or not to wear a mask. Thanks to a donation from Columbus Regional Health, hand sanitizing stations will be installed throughout the fairgrounds, Clouse said.
The $5 parking fee for the fair is split equally between the fair board and the Fraternal Order of Local Police 89, which uses much of its proceeds to sponsor aid programs for area children. .
A new attraction will be a tent set up by the 4-H Pavilion which will include games and activities for young children. Adam Ulrich, board member and professional educator, is leading this new effort supported by the 4-H Council.