The Herald Bulletin

July 23, 2010

Animals, fairgoers swelter in 90-degree temperatures

Single, air-conditioned building not jammed, despite temperatures in the 90s

By Christina M. Wright
The Herald Bulletin

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Though much can be found at the Madison County 4-H Fair in Alexandria, no one had complained that the sun hadn’t made a strong showing.

That is, until Friday.

“It’s too freakin’ hot,” said parent Paul Johnson, gulping down a bottle of water in the horse stables. “We knew it was going to be hot; I don’t know that we expected it to be this hot.”

The National Weather Service in Indianapolis recorded a high temperature of 92 degrees in Alexandria on Friday. It was the hottest day since the 2010 Madison County 4-H Fair began, and visitors and animals alike were feeling the heat.

A fun part of the llama show, the costume contest, was rescheduled due to the temperature, said llama leader Eran McCarty. She said that one teenager had planned to wrap his llama as a mummy.

“They’ve all been hosed down,” McCarty said of the llamas and alpacas, whose legs were visibly wet as the 4H’ers led them around. “They’re very sensitive to heat.”

McCarty said llamas and alpacas, who are native to the Andes Mountains, are used to an ideal temperature of 30 to 40 degrees. An extreme in the 90s is beyond their comfort zone, she said.

Though llamas and alpacas are more sensitive to the heat, the other animals at the fair needed to be watched just as carefully.

“You got to check them more often,” Johnson said. “Make sure they have water, hose them down, (and) make sure they don’t get overheated.”

Johnson, a parent with the Ruff Ryders 4-H group that showed horses for the 10th year Friday, said he also watched the children more closely. The group had extra bottles of water and bags of ice to keep cool.

Although the fairgrounds area was steaming outside, the only air conditioned building on the large facility  wasn’t completely packed at about 5 p.m.

Carol Johnson, who said she visits the fair every year with her parents, said she would weigh her visit to the Exhibition building for the actual displays and the air conditioning, as 50/50.

“Maybe we’re lingering a little longer,” she chuckled. “But I actually like the projects. I like to see what they put together. I’m very impressed with what the younger ones have done.”

Contact Christina M. Wright, 640-4883, christina.wright@heraldbulletin.com.