Quiet barn, ride times offered at county fair

BROWNSTOWN — Siblings Jasper and Jacobi Abel couldn’t pick one ride at the Jackson County Fair as their favorite.

“All of it,” Jacobi said.

“Everything,” Jasper said.

They were having fun going from one midway ride to the next during a two-hour event Friday afternoon set aside just for individuals with special needs and their families.

For the fifth year, the Jackson County Fair Association and Poor Jack Amusements partnered to offer quiet ride time.

More than 120 bracelets were handed out Friday, as select rides were open for attendees to enjoy for free.

Jessica Abel of Medora, mother of the siblings, said she recently learned the boys’ sister, Jazmine Abel, has autism. When she heard about quiet ride time, she thought it would be a good way for the family to have fun.

“It has been awesome,” Jessica said. “It’s the first time she has rode rides, and I’ve been enjoying every bit of it.”

Ira Auffenberg joined the kids on several of the rides.

“I think it’s a great benefit for them. Less crowd, noise,” he said. “It’s just a nice, quiet family atmosphere. It’s a good, peaceful time for the people who need it that don’t normally get to experience certain things like this.”

Also, for two hours Friday morning, quiet barn time was set up in Show Arena 1, again giving those with special needs a special opportunity just for them.

Jackson County 4-H’ers who show pigs, cows, rabbits, horses, chickens, ducks, sheep and goats took time out of their busy fair schedule to give the special guests a unique opportunity.

This was the third year for quiet barn time, and this marked the first time it was held on the same day as quiet ride time.

Bella Carmichael of Seymour has been in 4-H for seven years and is a member of the Jackson County 4-H Goat Club. She brought one of her Nigerian dwarf goats, Ellie, to quiet ride time.

“I really like being able to share with the kids who normally can’t get up close with the animals because of their disabilities,” she said. “It shows them that they can do stuff that regular people can. I think it gives them courage to do new things, and it just makes them happy. I love seeing them smile and just learn new things.”

The 2022 Jackson County Fair queen court — Queen Abby Stuckwisch, First Runner-Up Alexus Morris, Second Runner-Up Addie Shelton and Miss Congeniality Valeria Ramirez — also kept a tradition going by attending the quiet barn and ride times.

Ending with a long ride on the Ferris wheel with Dylan Bridges and Becky Klosterman, Stuckwisch and Shelton shared what the experience meant to them.

“Oh, it was so amazing. I had so much fun,” Stuckwisch said.

“Me, too. Absolutely,” Shelton said. “Just getting to talk to and interact with them is absolutely awesome. I got to meet a lot of new friends today.”

Stuckwisch said she did, too.

“I just think the fair is so special in general for everybody, and making it so accessible and able for everybody to enjoy the fair is so, so good because everybody should have the opportunity to enjoy the fair to its fullest,” she said.

Shelton agreed.

“No matter what they need, I like that we accommodate for them,” she said. “That’s very special to me.”

The Abels and Auffenberg look forward to returning to the 2023 fair to do it all over again.

“Oh yes, most definitely,” Jessica said. “If they keep having it, we’ll keep coming.”