Hendricks County 4-H Fair president Brad Beeson looks forward to this year’s many events
By Mike Beas
Having grown up on a 120-acre farm a short drive from the Indiana-Ohio line, Brad Beeson possesses the type of rural roots that make their way to the surface this time of year.
The Hagerstown native feels right at home at the annual Hendricks County 4-H Fair, scheduled for July 18-24 in Danville. Beeson, 66, is president of the Fair board and involved in the tractor display scheduled to be showcased all seven days.
“I’m from a farming family,” said Beeson, who has lived just outside of Brownsburg since 1984. “My parents and grandparents were farmers, and mainly raised beef cattle with the crops being corn, a lot of hay and a little bit of soybeans and oats.”
This isn’t to say Beeson isn’t enamored with other facets of the Fair. Per custom, the week offers something for everyone whether it’s carnival rides, attempting to earn blue-ribbon status for animals ranging from rabbits to llamas to the various entertainment options to simply walking around and taking in the sights.
Beeson’s involvement in the Hendricks County 4-H Fair is truly genuine.
“Obviously, I love serving the community. I was a 4-H’er as a kid, so I love giving back to the community,” said Beeson. “The 4-H’ers, they are our future. You see these young men and women, and you talk about some outstanding people.”
He continued: “When they speak, they come across with really good questions and answers. They are willing to do what they need to do to make our fair successful.”
And, of course, there are the numerous guilty pleasure options known as fair food. Elephant ears, corn on the cob and pork sandwiches are only a few of the possibilities, though the options each summer tend to be deliciously wide-ranging.
Beeson, who grew up attending the Wayne County Fair in Richmond during his formative years, said the food offered at the fair is also an opportunity to educate.
“There are so many people who don’t have a clue about a lot of products in the grocery store (and where they) come from. Products that come from corn, come from wheat,” said Beeson. “One of the things we sell at the 4-H Café is pork burgers along with ribeyes, milkshakes, toasted cheese sandwiches and other things on the menu.”
Meanwhile, Beeson’s love of and appreciation for tractors dates back nearly as long as he does. It’s why he looks forward to the display put on annually at the fair by the Hendricks County Antique Tractor & Machinery Association.
“I have the old 8-milimeter film at home where I’m 18 months old, and my dad placed me onto a tractor seat and put my hands on the steering wheel,” said Beeson. “He was on the back of the tractor, but he hops off and my mom (Eloise) films me driving the tractor.
“So I’ve kind of had a passion for tractors since I was a baby. People would have a heart attack if they did that today.”
The HCAT&MA’s objective is to present the agricultural heritage of Hendricks County and the men and women who made it happen. This includes the collection, restoration and displaying of the equipment that made farming possible during bygone eras.
This year’s fair display is expected to showcase between 100 and 125 tractors from the newest models to ones as far back as the late-1930s. Old-time farm equipment is also an attraction, said Beeson, with items such as hand-cranked corn shellers and the like there to be admired.
Beeson’s father, Eugene, now 90, active and sharp as a tack, according to Brad, can most certainly relate.
“My dad has the statement that everyone talks about the good old days. He said there were no good old days,” said Brad Beeson, laughing. “You froze to death in the winter and worked yourself to death in the summer.”
In October, Brad Beeson celebrates his 35th and final year working as a manufacturing engineer at C.F. Roark Welding & Engineering Co., Inc., in Brownsburg. He plans to retire in October, meaning that from that point on, his time is his own.
All the same, Beeson plans to support the Hendricks County Fair in the future because, after all, once a 4-H’er, always a 4-H’er.