DANVILLE — In the midst of a record breaking heat wave and drought conditions, the Hendricks County 4-H Fair board took several precautions to ensure the safety of fair-goers, participants, and animals.
”We have misting fans everywhere,” fair board president Brenda Burnell said. “We are allowing fans this year in all of the barns, which is something new. We are allowing little tents and pop ups, to help out the animals getting ready and the families and kids themselves, so they’re not overheating.”
Burnell said they offer ice on the fairgrounds at all times and have games for children where the winners earn popsicles in an effort to keep them cool and hydrated.
”I feel that we’re more prepared this year than last year,” Burnell said. “I think that the kids, families, and animals are too, because of the simple fact that it has been hot over the last month. We haven’t had any issues with the animals or the kids. We’re prepared and have a plan of action and everything is going pretty smoothly.”
In light of last year’s fatal state fair tragedy in which a storm blew threw and destroyed a stage, she said officials here also have a plan of action in place in the event of violent weather.
”We have new weather radios,” Burnell said. “We have different ones now, throughout the barns. That way, everyone has a heads up if bad weather is coming.”
For 16-year-old Jake Ellingwood, who is showing his cow this week at the fair, braving the heat is just part of it. Keeping the animals cool, he said, is his first priority. In fact, he said, it’s a full-time job.
”It’s hot,” Ellingwood said. “I water (the cows) down twice a day to keep them cool.”
He said the long, hot days can be exhausting.
”I get here around 6 (a.m.) and leave around 8 (p.m.),” he said. “I go straight to bed by the time that I get home.”
Hendricks Regional Health has staff on hand at a first aid station, but by Tuesday morning, they said things seemed to be running smoothly.
”We haven’t seen too many so far,” Kathi Mortensen, EMS coordinator with HRH, said. “As far as I know, they didn’t see anyone (Monday) night. I think it’s wonderful (to have a nice spot to cool off). And there are cooling stations around the fair this year, with the misting fans. It cools you down pretty quickly.”
Mortensen has some advice for fair-goers dealing with the heat this week.
”They should get out of the sun very regularly,” she said. “They need to hydrate, drink lots and lots of water, and stay away from the caffeine. Caffeine doesn’t help. They need to get in the cool areas when they can. Don’t let it get too far.”