GREENFIELD – John Stanley made his way around the merry-go-round, carefully wiping off each horse.
The Burton Brothers midway worker started with the seat, moved to the head and then the handle, ensuring each horse was dry for kids he hoped would later stop by for a ride — if only the rain would stop.
“Welcome to our swimming pool,” he joked, gesturing to deep puddles that surrounded the ride.
Rain pummeled the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds all day Friday, making for a soggy, muddy start to the week-long event and forcing organizers to cancel events including the 4-H Horse and Pony Show and the car show planned for Saturday — which they had touted as a new attraction this year.
By early Friday evening, the rain had slowed to a drizzle, and forecasts showed the chances of another storm dropping lower each hour.
Midway workers towel-dried the rides and hung the prizes. Food vendors cracked their doors and windows, all ready to welcome those who would brave the soggy conditions and come out.
Most of Friday’s events, including the dog show, talent show and color run, went on as planned, despite bad weather, and the Midway and exhibit halls opened for visitors at dinnertime.
But the horse and pony show, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, will have to be rescheduled, the outdoor arena proving too muddy to use. The car show, originally planned for 7 p.m. Saturday, is called off because it, too, was planned for the multipurpose arena, where the horse and pony show also is held, the 4-H office posted to its Facebook page Friday.
Zach Kissick, who was slated to play music at the car show, will perform at 7 p.m. at the 4-H Bowl instead.
Horse and pony show organizers were eyeing the weather early Friday before deciding to cancel the show around 2:30 p.m. The arena was just too wet, which poses danger for both the horses and their riders, said Barb Pescitelli, co-superintendent of the horse and pony club.
Canceling the event is a somewhat common occurrence in Hancock County. Two years ago, the show was canceled twice before organizers moved it out of county to a covered show arena in New Castle.
Rain delays and cancellations have become less of a surprise over the years, but they’re always disappointing for the 4-H’ers who work so hard, organizers said.
For weeks, horse and pony club members have the day marked on their calendars. They spend the days leading up to the contest primping their partners, braiding manes and washing away any traces of barn or field. And on contest day, they keep their fingers cross the skies don’t turn grey.
Elsewhere on the fairgrounds Friday, other 4-H’ers whose events were slated for indoor venues thanked their good fortune.
Despite much of the fairgrounds being quiet Friday, the show arena was a flurry of activity as dozens of 4-H’ers walked their dogs around the arena for obedience and agility contests.
Even after their contests were over, Noah Cochard, 14, and Adalyn Jackson, 13, spent the day camped out in the arena with their dogs, chatting with one another and hanging out with other friends.
The rainy start to fair week disappointed the pair a bit, but they suspect they would have spent much of the day in the show arena even if the sun was shining.
While Noah plans to spend a good portion of the week at the fairgrounds showing dairy cows and goats, Adalyn’s contests are finished.
She’ll have a lot of free time to spend on the midway, and she hopes rain stays away so she can enjoy the rides.
The National Weather Service is forecasting clear skies until Monday night, when there’s a slight chance of rain; the rest of fair week should remain mostly dry.
That’s welcome news to Doug Addison, a Charlottesville Lions Club Member, who closed the group’s signature corn-on-the-cob booth Friday, fearing rain would keep visitors away.
Club members had opened the booth early Friday to sell their summertime staple to the lunch crowd, but pouring rain kept the crowds at bay, Addison said.
When members looked at the forecast, it didn’t seem the weather would ever clear. So they sent everyone home, hoping for better weather the rest of the week.
He’s not too worried about missing out on one day of sale. It seems the club makes the same amount of money every year, rain or shine, he said.
“We made our choice,” he said. “You can’t choose the weather.”
See a full schedule of upcoming fair events on A2.
Fair updates and information about events will be posted on the Hancock County Fairgrounds Facebook page.