Buildings at fair pique people’s interest in history


Walking through the antique building and annex during the Jackson County Fair each year is like stepping back in time.

With this year’s theme of "All in a Day’s Work," the centerpiece of the antique building features an old filling station complete with a gas pump and a Schneider Nursery GMC truck.

Behind that display in the middle on the left side, visitors see a room set up with an old washer and dryer, stove, table and other items; an outdoor scene with a flower garden, a clothesline and a lemonade stand; and a farm scene with a tractor, concrete and wooden cutout animals and corn.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

On the other side are displays featuring a schoolroom, an old horse and buggy used to carry mail, a doctor’s office and a feed store.

Also, the left wall has old pictures from each of the county’s townships and winners of the annual photo contest based on the building’s theme, while the right wall is lined with pictures of fair board members and display cases filled with old artifacts and collectibles.

The theme of the antique building changes each year, and different groups man the annex. This year, it’s Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge and Area.

Margo Brewer, a volunteer with the Jackson County History Center in Brownstown, said some of the items in the antique building are loaned by people, and the rest is brought over from the history center.

An antique building committee and the township volunteers come together each year to make it all happen.

"Together, we just all sit down and throw out ideas," Brewer said of coming up with a theme.

The antique building was established in the summer of 1987 after Jackson County 4-H outgrew the space. It’s open from noon to 10 p.m. each day of the county fair.

"After the fair at some point, we will have a wrapup and discuss (plans) for next year," Brewer said.

Next year’s theme is honoring World War II veterans.

Morris Tippin with Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge and Area said he asked for the group to be in the annex this year. He thought it would be a great way to promote the longest historic covered bridge in the United States.

The bridge, constructed in 1875 by J.J. Daniels using the Burr Arch design, is 461 feet long and spans the East Fork White River parallel to State Road 235. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 and was restored in 2011.

The fair display features a replica of the bridge made by the late Dean Claycamp of Bartholomew County and a wooden board with string made by Tippin’s grandson-in-law to show how the Medora Covered Bridge is the longest historic covered bridge in the nation.

Tippin said some think the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge that crosses the Connecticut River from New Hampshire to Vermont holds that title.

Tippin, however, said engineer Jim Barker of Bloomington has disputed that. Tippin said the Medora Covered Bridge’s abutments were placed in a position to account for the rise and fall of the river, and the true measure of the bridge is the distance between the abutments.

"On the Cornish-Windsor bridge, it’s lattice design, and the points of that, it’s all above the piers and abutment, and the points of that lattice have to touch down," Tippin said. "It has to go beyond the abutment to be stable. … They are saying that because their truss is stable, you should measure by the truss. Jim Barker is saying once you pass the face of the abutment, you’re no longer spanning anything."

That’s why Tippin and Barker believe the Medora Covered Bridge truly is the longest historic covered bridge in the country.

Because of that fact, it’s one of the county’s biggest attractions, drawing tens of thousands of visitors annually and bringing income into the county. Tippin’s wife, Nancy, placed pins on a map showing where visitors have come from based on a registry they have kept inside the entrance to the bridge.

In one year, people had visited from all 50 states and 38 countries.

"I think the fact that we are the longest brings people to the county," Morris said. "It’s on the Indiana map as the longest historic covered bridge. If you have the longest, tallest, oldest or whatever, people will come to see it, and this is proof of that."

Morris has given a bridge building demonstration at 7 p.m. each day since Sunday, and he plans to do it again today and Friday.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”If you go” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

What: Ninth annual Dinner on the Bridge, sponsored by Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge and Area

When: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3

Where: Medora Covered Bridge along State Road 235

Tickets: Send a check for $25 per person to FMCBA, P.O. Box 132, Medora, IN 47260; a self-addressed stamped envelope is helpful but not required; the Jackson County Visitor Center in Seymour and Ladonna’s Country Cookin’ Restaurant and Catering in Salem also have tickets available

Details: Ladonna’s Country Cookin’ will cater the meal featuring roast beef and ham, scalloped potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, homemade pie, iced tea, lemonade and water

[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Jackson County Fair schedule


7 to 8 a.m.: Entry and registration of open class dairy goats

9 a.m.: 4-H dairy beef judging, Show Arena 2

10 a.m.: 4-H beef heifer judging, Show Arena 1

Noon: 4-H beef steer judging, Show Arena 1

2:30 p.m.: Check-in for 4-H creative dramatics performance, pavilion

3 p.m.: 4-H creative dramatics performance, pavilion

4 p.m.: 4-H dairy goat show; 4-H dairy goat parent showmanship and dairy goat milking contest to follow (open class show follows), Show Arena 2

4 to 8 p.m.: Sustainable Agriculture by Premier, Farm Bureau building

4 to 10 p.m.: Industry Showcase, Building 4

6 p.m. to close: Poor Jack Amusements Coupon Night (unlimited rides with $20 bracelet, $17 with Poor Jack coupon)

6 to 9 p.m.: Country Kickers line dancers and Stars and Stripes Cloggers, antique building stage

6:30 p.m.: Tomahawk and knife throwing finals, behind antique building

7 p.m.: Ko’s Martial Arts, pavilion

7 p.m.: Nightly antique machinery demonstration, behind antique building

7 p.m.: Bridge building demonstration, antique building annex

7 p.m.: Thursday Night Thunder featuring Indiana Pro Late Models, Modifieds, Superstocks and Hornets (admission is $15 for adults, $30 for a pit pass, $2 for ages 6 to 12 and free for under 6), grandstand