Newton County Pun'kin Vine Fair

12100 South Punkin Vine Road
Kentland, IN 47951



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 & 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 successfull 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 organized as a nonprofit organization, known as the Newton County Fair Association, and 100 memberships were offered to the public at $10 each. People were 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.F. 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" The Newton County Fair continued to flourish. It became the first county fair in the Midwest to present an outside Ice Show and the first to present the Radio City Rockettes on its stage. Comedian George Gobel made his acting debut on the stage of the Newton County Fair! One of the more memorable fairs was held in 1926, when continuous rains caused the carnival wagons and trucks to become so mired in the mud they were unable to be moved unril the following spring. In more recent memory, the parking lots were turned into muddy, rut lined lakes during the 1981 Fair; when tractors had to work through the night pulling out trapped motorists and the County Highway Department hauled in tons of Stone. According to the Newton County Enterprise, the parking areas were "something approximating the consistency of oat meal." Also remembered is the incident when an airplane crashed in front of the grandstand, luckily without injury to the pilot or spectators. In the spring of 1988, high winds tore off almost 75% of the Grandstand roof. Repairs were made: a new roof was put on and the Grandstand was shortened 24 feet before fair time. Beautification efforts, including new signs and landscaping with bushes and floral planters are evident everywhere and demonstrate the pride county residents feel for the Pun'kin Vine Fair A March 12th ice storm in 1991 knocked out power In much of southern Newton County for 14 days and gave the Fair Association the opportunity to replace 12 power poles and upgrade the camper wires. The wind that followed a week later destroyed the horse barn. A new building replaced the damaged barn. 1991 also marked the removal of the concrete stage in front of the grandstand and improvements in the track.

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