This year marks the 100th anniversary of Warren County 4-H. The first year, the county’s 4-H'ers displayed their projects at the Covington fair. The following year it was held at the Clint Butler farm at Carbondale, Ind.
From 1921 to 1925, the fair was on the Elm Grove Farm, 3 miles north of Williamsport. Projects were displayed in the county courthouse and livestock housed south of town from 1926 to 1938.
When a suitable place could no longer be located in Williamsport, the fair was held at the county farm from 1939 to 1947. Following the 1947 fair, the 4-H Fair board had an open meeting to discuss the fair’s location. Although there were disagreements at to the location, everyone agreed there should be a permanent fairground. A committee was appointed to locate a suitable site.
In April 1948, the Warren County Fair Board met and tentatively agreed to conduct the 4-H fair once again at the county farm. In May, the fair board met with the Williamsport Lions Club and the town trustees to sign a 99-year lease to locate the fair at the Lions Club Park.
A goal of $5,000 was set for the county and approximately $500 per township in which to purchase supplies. Electric lights, outside toilets and city water would be provided.
Drives connecting the park to Indiana Route 28 through the Clark property and Fourth Street were added. A lease with the Butts heirs provided additional ground for commercial exhibits. This was the first time since the end of WWII that dealers had enough machinery on hand to have an exhibit.
The Lions agreed to sponsor the construction of a 40x75 foot building in which to exhibit girls’ 4-H projects. It would have two restrooms, a kitchen, fireplace, stage, dressing rooms and be furnished with tables and benches for picnics during the summer. Members of the Lions Club donated their time in the evenings to help with the foundation.
The fair board would build a 48-foot by 160-foot swine and cattle building in time for the 1948 fair. Those who donated logs included: Clarence Bowlus, Ralph Youngblood, Ernest Banning, Gerd Ehler, Harold Schlosser, David Benson, Warren Smith, Robert Eberly and son, Lee Bisner, Raymond Bisner, Amos Speck, Jacob St. John, and Lawrence Wilson.
Trucks and labor were also donated to haul the logs to the saw mill. Approximately 12,000 feet of timber were cut. Percy Cating, a carpenter from West Lebanon, was hired to supervise the volunteers in the building’s construction. Dean Bell donated several hours to level the ground with his bulldozer.
A plea for volunteers appeared in the July 29 newspaper in order to finish the hog and cattle building in time for the August 18 fair. Approximately 50 head of cattle and more than 100 hogs were housed in the new building.
In October, the fair board and Lions club dedicated the new buildings. About 400 people attended.
Terri Wargo writes for the Warren County (Indiana) Historical Society.