GREENFIELD — This year’s 4-H Horse and Pony show won’t be conducted in Hancock County.
Organizers decided to move the show — which twice has been canceled because of rain — to the Henry County Saddle Club grounds in New Castle. It’s been scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
Local 4-H participants said the cancellations and relocation speak to the need for a new fairgrounds that includes a covered arena less susceptible to weather for the Hancock County 4-H Horse and Pony Club.
Wyneta Duncan, superintendent of the horse and pony club, said organizers chose to move the show out of county to a facility with a covered arena to avoid having to cancel the show a third time.
“They have an indoor and outdoor facility, which is our dream,” she said.
She said the trouble organizers went through this year to ensure there would be a show paints a perfect example of why a new fairgrounds with a covered horse arena is needed.
“This is frustrating for leaders and the 4-H’ers and parents,” she said. “We were fortunate that someone canceled a show at New Castle, and they’re working with us to move it.”
Darrin Couch, a board member of the Hancock County Exposition Complex, the nonprofit board overseeing the proposed new fairgrounds project, said providing a covered facility for the horse and pony club was the catalyst for revitalizing the effort to build a new fairgrounds.
A similar effort was launched more than a decade ago but never came to fruition. Now, supporters say the project can’t wait any longer.
At a recent information meeting about the project, Couch told attendees that a covered facility for the club would prevent events from having to be canceled any time there’s a significant rainstorm, which leaves the current arena muddy and unable to be used.
Duncan has been involved in the horse and pony club for about 50 years. The contest has been canceled because of rain many times, leaving 4-H’ers in limbo after the fair has passed, she said. This year, however, was the first time it had to be canceled twice.
The new fairgrounds would be located on more than 208 acres of county-owned farmland along U.S. 40 between county roads 400E and 500E. It would double the size of the county fairgrounds and add a multipurpose exposition center, two arenas and six rental barns. A large outdoor amphitheater, a grand gazebo and sizable retention pond also are planned.
But the project comes with a $30 million price tag, and it’s still unclear how it will be funded. Organizers guess the funds will come from tax dollars, grants, private donations and corporate sponsorships.
Despite a hefty price tag, now’s the time to make the fairgrounds a reality, supporters say.
Because the horse and pony contest had to be moved outside the county, the 4-H’ers won’t have as large of an audience when they compete this weekend, Couch said. Worse, some 4-H’ers won’t be able to participate at all.
“I just hope the community continues to support this project, and we can keep the project moving forward to some day get to the point where we don’t have these kind of things to worry about,” he said.
Lauren Dickson of New Palestine is a 10-year member of 4-H, and the contests this weekend would have been her last, but the Indiana University-bound freshman won’t be able to participate because she’s moving to Bloomington to take a summer course.
She’s excited the event is being moved to an indoor facility, where the show will go on even if it does rain, but she’s disappointed she won’t be a part of the action.
“It’s upsetting,” she said. “I’ve put in all the work for it; I just didn’t get to complete it. You can’t change the weather.”
The Hancock County 4-H Horse and Pony Show has been rescheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Henry County Saddle Club grounds, 2221 N. Memorial Drive, New Castle.
Contesting will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Halter and performance will be at 8 a.m. Saturday.
For additional information, contact Wyneta Duncan at 317-462-9224 or Barb Pescitelli at 317-891-8913.