By C. Josh Givens
The Hancock County Fair Board continues to finalize plans for the 2022 Hancock County Fair, which is set for Aug. 3-6. Newly-elected Board President Greg Wettstain and Vice President Scott Basham said Tuesday the Board is striving to keep the fair “traditional” in the memories of fairgoers, while bringing new attractions and entertainment.
“County fairs used to be a huge thing for Kentucky communities, and our fair is still very popular,” Basham said. “But if you don’t keep it fresh and exciting, then all these other things competing for people’s attention are going to attract them instead.”
The Hancock County Fair has received several awards for its excellence over the decades at the state level.
“We’re going to be working until the last minute to make sure this fair has something for everyone,” Wettstain said. “It takes the whole community to pull this off, whether it’s the Board, our local businesses and industry, our high school FFA, the 4H organization. Hancock County pulls together to get this done, and we want to keep growing.”
Improvements to the fairgrounds continue and will be an ongoing process, Wettstain said. The 4H exhibit space is currently undergoing renovations, including a new concrete floor sponsored by the Hawesville Lions Club and GN Excavating, and shelving is being completed by Rick Colbert.
As well, the Lewisport Lions Club has constructed a new permanent food booth, with funding provided by Labor Management Credit Union.
“Sometimes folks will look at our gate receipts and think we should be able to afford so much more at the fair,” Basham said. “We may take in $100,000 in gate receipts, but half of that is going to go to the ride company and for things like liability insurance. It leaves very little, and we couldn’t do it without volunteers and community help.”
Wettstain said highlights of the fair this year will be the addition of ax throwing and laser tag venues, a much-improved demolition derby, and the horse and pony pulling competitions.
“We will have the best demo derby and horse pulling events in the Tri-State area,” Wettstain said. “There will be 16 to 20 of the large horse pulling teams, along with all of the other horse classes. The demo derby is always popular, and the organizers and participants are working harder every year to bring a bigger show to the people.”
Basham said the Fair Board is thankful for every volunteer and Board leadership team member which has come before.
“If it weren’t for all of the hard work of those passionate people, Hancock County just wouldn’t have anything up here,” Basham said. “We appreciate each and every one of them, and we are always open to new people coming in with new ideas.”
Wettstain assumes the president role after the longtime service of former Board President Franklin Powers.“It’s a lot of work,” Wettstain said. “Planning the fair and keeping the grounds maintained is not something you only do for a couple of weeks each year. We have goals to keep improving our grounds, and making the experience better each and every year. Our priority going forward is going to be updating our restroom facilities, but it’s not something we can do right away.”
The Board does receive some funding assistance through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, but much of that is for prizes from exhibit contests. “We encourage people to enter the exhibits; you don’t have to be from Hancock County,” he said. “If we continue to show the state we are growing those exhibits, the easier it is to convince to fund us.”
Byron Emmick and Kasey Emmick continue to volunteer to keep the grounds mowed.
Food vendor booths are already full for this year’s fair, with varieties such as barbecue, local Mexican cuisine, and pizza, among other traditional fair offerings.
The Board continues to look for solutions to parking issues, as the grounds has limited on-site parking. Many fairgoers park off-site on property that owners voluntarily provide, with shuttles to bring them into the admission area. Parking this year will be handled by the Hancock County High School Hornets basketball team, which will receive a significant donation from the Board for their work.
“Parking is always a challenge, but we are going to solve it; it’s just gonna take more than a year,” Wettstain said.
This year’s fair kicks off on Wednesday, Aug. 3, with exhibit entries beginning at 2 p.m. There will be a free admission Ecumenical Service at 6:15 p.m., which welcomes all denominations of worshippers in the community. Food will be provided by Bill & Dave’s Smokin’ Pit from Tell City.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities with the Hancock County Fair Board, contact Wettstain at 270-313-5077 or Basham at 270-922-8257.
Hancock County Fair catalogs are available at several locations throughout Hancock County. Each booklet contains complete scheduling information, as well as entry information for exhibits, pageants, and other events.
Fair information is also available online at hancockcountykyfair.com