In the heat of the afternoon, the open areas of the Johnson County fairgrounds looked like a ghost town.
4-H’ers crowded into barns where dozens of fans tried to keep animals and kids cool. Air-conditioned halls were places of refuge for the few people wandering the grounds.
Crowds found any way to avoid the sun as temperatures soared toward 100 and the humidity bore down on central Indiana. But when the sun went down, they returned.
Despite record-breaking heat, organizers say this year’s Johnson County 4-H Fair brought in close to 100,000 visitors, on track with the attendance for the past two years.
Though hot temperatures discouraged people from coming to the fairgrounds during the day, more took advantage of the grandstand and midway events in the evening, when it was cooler, fair board president Brian Young said.
“At the start of the week, it was dead and slow, especially during the day. But by the end of the week, it really picked up,” he said. “We were kind of like the tortoise and the hare. We started out really slow, but by the end, we were flying.”
Attendance figures are an inexact science at the fair, since admission to the grounds is free. But using grandstand tickets, bracelets sold for the midway rides and parking income, organizers can estimate how many people came to the fairgrounds.