Fair-goers enjoy preview
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 3, 2012 1:32PM
Crowds stroll along the midway at the Lake County Fair in Crown Point. | Archive~Sun-Times Media
CROWN POINT — The fairgrounds came to life Thursday with the smell of fried food and the sound of carnival rides as the 160th Lake County Fair preview night kicked off 10-days of fun.
Nine-year-old Gena Olson tore off pieces of an elephant ear bigger than her head as she walked with her mom Liz down the midway toward the flashing lights of the rides.
The elephant ear vendor was the first stop for the pair as they walked into the fairgrounds, a purchase Liz described as a tradition.
“We always get an elephant ear and eat it while we check out the games and rides she wants to do,” Olson said.
“It tastes so good,” Gena said. The two were among those who took advantage of the discounted admission and smaller crowds on preview night for a chance to check out the food and rides. Olson said they will come back on Saturday with her sister’s family to spend the day and check out the exhibits.
“I don’t want to miss anything,” Gena said.
Ken Craft, fair president, said everybody was geared up for the 6 p.m. opening. He is looking forward to some cool weather over the next 10 days so people will come out take advantage of the inexpensive entertainment the fair represents.
“There’s something here for everybody. Some of the things I thought would die out are more popular than ever,” Craft said, citing the twice daily cow milking and racing piglets as an example.
“The kids who came and watched it 10 years ago are bringing their kids back,” Craft said.
While rides, food and midway games are a major draw at the fair, the focus remains the animals shown in the various barns throughout the event.
Bill Duttlinger, sheep and swine superintendent, said the animal exhibits are “kind of like the Olympics where you find out whose best.”
He said the exhibits give the visitors a chance to see the locally sourced food supply up close and know it is safe. Duttlinger said while the fair always has been proactive about safety around the livestock, they will be taking a few extra precautions this year with the swine after a swine flu incident at the Ohio State Fair and LaPorte County Fair were reported. The strain was not the notorious HINI version but a less dangerous mutation.
“We are very aware of the situation,” Duttlinger said. Only two counties of 92 in Indiana have had issues with sick pigs. Since the news broke in LaPorte there have been no problems in adjacent counties including Porter, Newton and Jasper. He said the Board of Animal Health inspected more than 2,000 head of swine at the Indiana State Fair today and did not have to send any home.
Duttlinger and fair veterinarian Dr. Larry Leininger will be inspecting all the swine as they are unloaded and if they suspect anything they will take the animal’s temperature and turn it away if there is any indication of illness.
“We are being very proactive with this. We’ve been communicating with the owners of the animals,” he said. Hand wash and disinfection stations are set up throughout the various animal barns and visitors have always been advised to wash their hands upon leaving. Food it also prohibited in the animal barns.
“We do our best to keep people informed,” he said.
Craft said the fair implemented sanitation protocols when E coli concerns arose at other fairs. There had never been an instance of somebody sickened from any of the farm animals at the Lake County Fair, he said.