Quiet ride, barn times offered at county fair



Taking a short break from the midway rides, Gracie Bogard went up to two members of the Jackson County Fair queen court.

Queen Jessica Blevins, first runner-up Sophie Kreis, second runner-up Cassidy Isaacs and Miss Congeniality Olivia Barlow took time out of their day at the fair Tuesday afternoon to enjoy rides and play games during quiet ride time for individuals with special needs.

Bogard showed Barlow a prize she won at a fishing game, and Barlow said, "You’re a champion, for sure."

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Bogard then was admiring their crowns and sashes and asked her mom about wearing the sash. Her mom replied, "No, you can’t wear their sash."

Immediately, the girls took them off and placed them around Bogard and another girl.

A day they were going to remember became even better.

"This is so special," Blevins said of quiet ride time, which was offered for the third year in a row with cooperation of the Jackson County Fair board and Poor Jack Amusements.

"Everyone is enjoying this so much," she said. "I know me and the court are enjoying it, too. It’s fun for everyone."

With the girls smiling and throwing their arms up in the air on the rides, it was hard to tell who was having more fun — them or the kids.

"The kids were on the swings, and they didn’t want to get off, and Mom was saying, ‘Oh, come on, come on,’ and they said, ‘One more ride with the queen,’" Blevins said, smiling. "It’s so great. I think that they are making me more happy than I’m making them happy. It’s so important that the fair does this, and I think it’s just amazing."

The two-hour event gave Barlow another opportunity to be around special needs students. Throughout her time at Brownstown Central High School, she worked in the special needs classroom. Now, she’s preparing for her first year at Indiana University Southeast, where she’s going to study special education to become a teacher.

"I know the importance of them being here and being able to have a few hours to just be with themselves and be with their families without a big crowd," Barlow said.

"It’s not so much the rides that they wouldn’t be able to do of an evening, but it’s the lines, the lights, the sounds," she said. "I think it’s just really amazing that the Jackson County Fair and Poor Jack Amusements have just set aside two hours for these special needs kids to come and be able to ride these rides. This has been an amazing experience."

Around a dozen rides were available this year, and a new offering was a fishing game.

Fair board member Matt Boknecht, who owns Boknecht Trucking, said he attended quiet ride time last year and saw it was a big deal, but he noticed there were no games. This year, he paid to have some games open so kids could win prizes.

"When I was a little kid, I wasn’t about the rides. I liked the games. You get something," he said. "Well, they are the same way. Some kids are about the rides, some like the games, so I think it’s a good deal."

Watching the kids and their families having fun Tuesday was special for Boknecht.

"It melts your heart," he said, smiling. "I sent my wife a text awhile ago and I said, ‘We’re truly blessed.’ You just don’t realize it. It just makes you open your eyes. It’s just great, all of those smiles. I get as much of a kick out of watching them as what they are, I think. I enjoy it."

Isabelle and Jamie Buxton of Seymour attended quiet ride time with Gabriel Buxton, 1, and Isabelle’s sister, Lillian Halcomb, 13.

"My sister has special needs, and so we all just came to celebrate with her," Isabelle said.

After starting with the carousel and a car ride, the Buxtons could see the kids having fun.

"I think it’s really nice that they decided to do this for the kids that probably can’t come on a regular fair day that’s like a sensory overload, it’s too loud. It really makes me happy that (Lillian) gets to do what everybody else gets to do on a day like this," Isabelle said.

"She really doesn’t get to get out that much, and seeing her get on (the rides), it’s awesome," Jamie said.

A new offering for individuals with special needs and their families was quiet barn time. For three hours Friday morning, Jackson County 4-H members had animals in Show Arena 1 for the kids to see and pet. That included horses, cows, pigs, goats, chickens, rabbits and lambs.

Jason Wynn, co-leader of the 4-H goat club, said the idea came from one of his co-workers at the Seymour Police Department, Chadd Rogers, who has a son with special needs. Rogers told Wynn about his son’s love of animals.

"There’s really not an opportunity for special needs kids to come up here with all of the showing going on — the noise, the trucks moving in and out," Wynn said. "Some kids might have a breakthrough coming through, and it might advance them a little bit, just that place where they can come and you don’t have all of the other noise and all of the announcing and speakers."

He thought Friday morning was the best time because all of the 4-H livestock shows are done, and not many people are at the fairgrounds. Plus, having the animals all in one place is better than walking from barn to barn.

He asked 4-H’ers who work with different species to volunteer time to bring their animals. That included Wynn’s children, Allison and Conner.

"It shouldn’t just be my kids having that opportunity. Other kids should have that," Jason said of giving special needs individuals time to interact with animals.

The plan is to make quiet barn time an annual offering at the fair.

"Get the word out, and hopefully, it just keeps growing and growing and we can make it better," Jason said. "Who knows where we can go with that?"

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