Porter County Fair features battle of the barns

2013-07-27T21:00:00Z 2013-07-27T22:36:13Z Porter County Fair features battle of the barnsSusan O’Leary Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
July 27, 2013 9:00 pm  • 

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | After months of caring for their animals, 4-H’ers were reminded one last time Saturday evening of perhaps the worst part of the job.

“Name That Species’ Feces” was the first game of the Battle of the Barns, the annual fair-end event in which 12 teams of 4-H members compete in four fun games.

In the first game, each of the teams was shown photos of animal droppings and had to match each to the correct animal. Teammates also participated in a human wheelbarrow race, a balloon scramble, and the crowd favorite, the tug-of-war, while a halftime show honored 10-year outgoing 4-H members at the fairground’s livestock arena.

Jeri Gearhart, Battle of the Barns committee chair, said the event, in its ninth year, draws a standing-room-only crowd.

“It’s always packed,” said Gearhart. “That’s a good problem to have.”

The games provide a break in the intense 4-H shows, said Gearhart.

“During the week, there’s a lot of tension and competition during each show,” said Gearhart. Even if they didn’t win then, they end on a good note.”

Team members said it’s an honor to participate.

“As soon as I got the call to be on the team, I was really happy,” said Steve Finley, 11, of the Rabbit Barn team.

Just an hour before the competition, the Rabbit Barn was unsure of its game strategy.

“Anybody got a strategy?” shouted Amanda Krzyzanowski, 14, to her team members.

“Win!” Megan Krzyzanowski, Amanda’s sister, shouted back.

Gearhart said each team has an equal number of beginning, intermediate and experienced 4-H’ers.

“The little kids are in awe of the big kids,” said Gearhart. “Here, they get to know each other and bond more.”

Robert Garza, 10, of the Poultry Barn, said he was “nervous” as he munched on pizza before the battle.

“I don’t think we’re going to win,” said Garza. “But I’ve seen some of the other teams and we might win this, but I’m not going to get my hopes up.”

Garza’s teammates, Sarah Opperman, 15; Maddie Mottinger, 18; and Christina Foy, 16, were a bit more optimistic.

“Think positive,” Foy said to Garza.

All veteran 4-H members, the young women said the event is “the best part of the fair.”

“It’s a ton of fun and I look forward to it every year,” said Opperman. “I like going out with a bang at the end.”

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