Marion County Fair 2017

Marion Counsty Fair Treasurer Don Glowinski, of Perry Township, shares how annual event has adapted and grown

Don Glowinski, left, celebrates his daughter Maggie’s crowning as Marion County Fair Queen in 2016.

A fair is unlike many other events. It changes every day, like a “living, breathing thing,” said Marion County Fair Treasurer Don Glowinski.

“I like the challenge that it brings,” he said. “Fair gets in your blood. Some people are racing people. Some people play tennis. Fair people are fair people. It’s the smell of fair food. It’s walking through the livestock building. It’s hearing a rooster’s crow when you’re there at 6 o’clock pulling trash. It’s the people, that are just genuine, good people. That’s what draws me to it and why I’m still in it.”

This year’s fair is June 16 to 25, with free parking and a $5 admission.

Glowinski, a St. Jude grade school and a 1979 Southport High School grad, would go to the fair as a kid. When his own children got involved in 4-H, showing rabbits, poultry and small animals, he began to volunteer his time. His wife, Cheryl Devol-Glowinski got it started and each of their five children went through the 4-H program.

““We don’t do anything part way,” Don said. “We jumped in with both feet. Next thing (my wife) knows, she has a backyard full of chickens and barn full of rabbits.”

Glowinski, who owns DP Mechanical Services, LLC, has been on the board of directors for 12 years. He said although board members are only supposed to serve nine years, he has stayed on as an ex officio member so that he can remain treasurer.

“The fair is on a very good, financial base,” he said. “We have a good future ahead of us.”

That, in part, he said is due to the fair’s all-volunteer board and the changes that they’ve made in recent years.

“The dedication and the imagination of our board of directors, they have a passion for this and they’re willing to invest the time,” he said. “Our board is our greatest asset to our success. Next is the people that come to our fair, the guests. It’s neat when you see third and fourth generations. Then we have a lot of new people as well. There are a lot of people that didn’t know what the fair was. We’re reaching out to a more diverse crowd and that has helped us grow.”

Glowinski said the fair is healthy, vibrant, growing, adapting and changing as Marion County changes. What used to be a mostly agricultural county is now an urban county.

“So, as 4-H and open class animal shows have dwindled, what do we do, how do we keep going, how do we keep ourselves fresh?” he said, “We partner with North America Rides, the same rides the state fair uses so it’s top-notch, safe, clean, friendly and family-oriented. People want to come into the fair to see animals so we have a company that brings in farm-type animals: the cattle, the sheep and the goats. The one thing that is growing in Marion County and has taken off at the fair is poultry. In Marion County, people are allowed to raise chickens now so people are getting into that.

Entertainment has become a main driver of attendance.

“This year at the fair, we have some really good entertainment coming,” Glowinski said. “We’ve got racing at the backtrack, demolition derby, monster truck, motorcycle racing. We have some good acts on the main state. We have a great gospel night with lots of gospel groups. We have the typical, off-the-wall fair stuff, too like Twiggy the water skiing squirrel and pig races. We have pulled off all the stops this year.”

The fair is growing, and Glowinski said they are happy to find themselves in the financial shape to continue that growth.

“One thing the fair did which was paramount to getting as successful as we did was change the dates,” he said. “We used to be the week before the state fair. We were right in the middle of some huge events. There’s only so many people and so many dollars to be spent in Marion County. With the year-round, balanced calendar we have now, they’re starting school in July. So we moved the dates to thee end of June. We’re one of the first things that happen in Marion County. It’s been very positive.”

On average, the fair had 50 to 60,000 coming through in the 10-day period last year. Glowinski said they’ve seen a steady incline since 2014.

Another key to that growth has been the 501c3, nonprofit status that the Marion County Fair earned two years ago, which has allowed for tax-deductible donations.

“We did a lot of capital improvements over the past nine years – updated our water system, sewage system, electrical system, restroom upgrades, buildings upgrades, roads,” Glowinski said. “We were able to restructure our debt in such a way to position us stronger going into the future. We have some great financial partners. We’ve put us back on a more secure footing.”

The board is always planning ahead for the next five years, trying to diversify events and adapt to the times.

“At night the midway is a fairyland fantasy of brilliant light and color,” captions the back of this historical photo from August 1960.

Diverse entertainment line-up beckons visitors  to 87th annual Marion County Fair June 16-25

A waterskiing squirrel, athletic dogs and racing pigs are among entertainment in store for visitors to the 87th annual Marion County Fair, Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 25 at the Marion County Fairgrounds, 7300 East Troy Ave.

Throughout the 10-day run, fairgoers will discover all sorts of events to explore on the 123-acre grounds; fair foods to savor; displays in the 4-H, Family Arts and Marketplace Buildings; competitions at the Grandstand, Horse Arena and Coliseum; continuous free entertainment on the Park Stage; the midways, and much more.

Gates open Monday through Friday at 5 p.m., and weekends at noon. General admission is $5 per person, with children five and under and military with valid ID admitted for free. Parking in the fairgrounds lot is free.

Special discount admission events include the Sunday, June 18 Father’s Day Celebration when all men receive $2 off regular admission; Monday, June 19 Senior Night when fairgoers age 55-plus receive $1 off admission with ID, and Wednesday, June 21 Ladies Night when all female fairgoers receive $2 off admission.

Among this year’s special features are:

Opening Night with the crowning of a new Marion County Fair Queen & Court plus fireworks (June 16)

• Social media sensations Kristin & Danny on-site for meet & greets and photos (June 16)

• World famous Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel (June 16-18)

• The Indiana Historical Society’s touring Auto Indiana exhibit, saluting the Hoosier state’s automotive and racing heritage (June 16-18)

Chainsaw carving with Jason Emmons (June 16-18)

Youth & Adult Talent Competitions (June 18-19)

Swifty Swine racing around a soft padded track toward an Oreo cookie reward (June 20-25)

• the return of crowd-favorites Elite Performance K9s (June 23-25)

Kids’ Day entertainment including Silly Safari, Pacers Fan Van, Kasey the Fire Safety Dog, the Happily Ever After Princesses and others (June 24)

Half-Way to Christmas Santa Extravaganza! with the Naughty/Nice Checkpoint (June 25)

Family Arts events & competitions (June 16-25).

Attractions scheduled for the grandstand include:

Gonzocross motorcycle racing (June 16; $5; kids under 6 free)

Truck drag racing (June 17; $5; kids under 6 free)

ATV drag racing (June 18; $5; kids under 6 free)

• the new Outlaw Kart Races (June 20 $5; kids under 6 free)

Monster Truck pit party & demos (June 22; $5; kids under 6 free)

Demolition Derby (June 23-24; $5; kids under 6 free).

Headliners on the free Park Stage include:

• classic 70s rock with Vinnie & the Moochers (June 16)

• 60s music with the 45 RPMs (June 17)

Gospel Music Celebration in partnership with WHMB-TV (June 18)

• country artist Seth Cook (June 19)

• the smooth Caribbean sounds of Island Breeze (June 20)

• country/pop performer Greg Rhodes (June 21)

• the rock/funk Thunder Brothers (June 22)

• popular country singer Carly Brooke and country/Christian duo Cook & Belle (June 23)

• from Detroit, the jazz/blues artistry of the Chris Canas Band (June 24)

• rocker Jason Wells (June 25).

The Marion County Fair’s midway is provided by North American Midway Entertainment, headquartered in Farmland, Ind. The midway offers a mix of old favorites and new attractions each year – rides designed for the enjoyment of youngsters, teens and adults. Visit MarionCountyFair.org for information about ride discounts.