About

Residents of Newton County have long enjoyed the fun and excitement of a county fair. In September of 1882, just 20 years after the county was organized, a “Patrons and Farmers Agricultural Fair” was held near Herriman’s Tile Factory in Washington Township. This Fair continued annually through 1887. Coincidentally, the site was the woods and pasture just east of the former County Home, near the ground of the present fair. In 1920 and 1921, a Newton County Fair was organized by members of the County Farm Bureau. Held in the Livery Stable and on the street in Brook, it was called the “Newton County Stock Show.” At these early fairs, there were no grandstands or buildings; exhibits were set up in tents, and bleacher seats were brought from Indianapolis to provide seating for the small crowds. The fair was a bona fide “social event” and was talked about for months before and after the actual fair dates. Mr. Hamilton Jackson, the first President of the Fair, was assisted by several members of the Whiteman family. As the 1920 Fair, termed a “splendid success,” was followed by an equally successful 1921 Fair, with crowds and interest far exceeding expectations, it became evident that a larger site, where growth and expansion would be possible, would be necessary. On the last day of the 1921 Brook exhibition, various breeders and other interested individuals met and a committee of seven was appointed to select a location. Only two offers were received: Lake Village, and the Newton County Home through the Board of Commissioners. After much discussion, the committee agreed on the County Home site. The Fair was skeptical, but after two years, all 100 memberships were sold! Thus, the third annual Newton County Fair was held at the County Farm in 1922. Officers were: President - Rolland Ade, Kentland; Vice President - J.A. Wolgemuth, Lake Village; and Secretary-Treasurer - Clyde Herriman, Kentland. Also serving as directors were Lyle Constable, Goodland; James Hendry, Kentland; Charles Fleming, Brook; and S.E. Molter, Kentland. The stated objective of the Fair was “To encourage and foster the livestock industry in Newton County, Indiana, as well as the various branches of farming, agricultural, and domestic economy.” Officers and Directors of the Newton County Fair have always worked hard to maintain and improve the Fair’s facilities. The Fair has had nine presidents since it was organized: Rolland Ade from 1922 until 1957; Paul Weston form 1957 to 1966; Leonard Storey form 1966 to 1983; George Holley form 1983 to 1984; Rich Miller from 1984 to 1991, John Frischie form 1991 to 1995; Don Olson from 1995 to 2000; Scott Carlson from 2000 to 2008; Rick Dawson from 2008 to 2015; and the current president Tim Burks elected in 2015. The Fair has had seven secretaries: Clyde Herriman from 1922 until 1926; Tony Schuh from 1926 to 1954; John Connell from 1954 to 1986; Bob Lane from 1986 to 1992; Marci Hall from 1992 to 2014, Ann Shale served as secretary from 2014 to 2015, and the current secretary, Carol Carlson, was elected in 2015. In 2004 the Fair Board voted to divide the position of Secretary/Treasurer into two positions. Carol Carlson was elected Secretary in 2004 and Marci Hall became the Treasurer. In 2014 the Fair Board voted to combine the position secretary and treasurer once again. How the name “Pun’kin Vine” originated is open to debate. Some of the “old timers” say that at the time the first fair opened, there were “Pun’kin” vines all around the gates as you entered the fairgrounds. Others say that remarks were made that the fairgrounds were only fit to raise “Pun’kins.” Who is right or wrong doesn’t seem to matter now. After all, there is only one Newton County “Pun’kin Vine Fair.” Long may it continue. John Connell

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