CROWN POINT | Monday belonged to the young and old at the Lake County Fair as Senior Citizens Day competed for attention with the Youth Fun Horse Show.
Activities officially began at 9 a.m., but Senior Citizens Day chairman Mike Fraley, of Highland, knew to arrive early.
"The place was packed by 8:30 a.m.," he said of the tent that offered health screening tables manned by staffers from sponsor Franciscan St. Anthony Health Crown Point, vendor booths, free coffee and muffins, and live music by The Goldtones.
The mild weather was definitely a plus, Fraley said. "We've already served 600 cups of coffee, and last year we barely served 300 due to the heat."
Newcomer Hermine Pockuba, of Schererville, was swaying to the music while chatting with friend Karin Sorensen, of Dyer.
The Apple Peeling Contest drew a dozen contestants and a crowd of spectators. After all the peelings were measured, first-time contestant Lou Ann Miller, of Cedar Lake, edged two-time champion Bill Dolick, of Reynolds, by just a nibble.
Miller's peel measured 41-3/4 inches to Dolick's 41-1/2 inches. Casimira Bilinski, of Calumet City, placed third at 40-1/2 inches.
"I tried to cut deep (to keep the peel thicker) and in narrow rows to get the longest peel," Miller said.
Meanwhile in the show arena, preschoolers pranced around on stick horses in the 24th annual Youth Fun Horse Show.
"I liked that I could run," said Ariana Hoke, 4, of Schererville, who named her pink stick horse Goldalicious and proudly wore the medallion presented to all contestants in the Stick Horse Class.
Pat Leininger, the only superintendent the fun show has known, said the day is all about having fun, with events like the Egg Race, Apple Under Chin event and Dash for Cash.
Jordan Olson, 13, of St. John., won first in the English Pleasure Class on her Appaloosa, He's Perfect Vision.
She attributed her trophy-and-cash win to how well her horse moved under her guidance, while her father, Mark Olson, credited Jordan's "dedication to her horse and riding every single day."
"This is her sport," he said.
There is no dress code (except for mandatory helmets and boots with real horses), Leininger said. "We hope to start these kids out (with stick horses) and have them get a horse and come back to compete."
"They are often hesitant to come into the ring, and then don't want to leave."