News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 11, 2013

More than animals, rides & funnel cakes

Unique events abound to entertain at fair

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — There are the carnival rides, games, cotton candy and demolition derby, but the 2013 Vigo County Fair offers other unique events.

Waving a red cloth, “Magic Matt” Scherer flicked his wrist, turning the cloth into a straight stick. He later changed white colored rings into those of yellow, red and blue.

Scherer, 49, performed for a crowd, largely from the Kountry Kids Child Care, for his first show Wednesday afternoon, his third year in a row performing at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.

“I just provide a family fun magic show. I don’t take myself very seriously, just have lots of fun with fun magic for the kids,” he said.

He threw in a few puns as well.

Holding a top hat, Scherer looked into the bottom.

“Oh no! There is something every adult dreads. A gray hair,” he said as he reached into the hat and pulling out a small gray-colored foam rabbit (a hare).

Scherer, of Downers Grove, Ill., started dabbling in magic at about age 8. He began with trick magic cards, sold on television. “A real famous magician from Chicago, named Marshall Brodien, who was Wizzo on the ‘Bozo Show,’ made a fortune selling trick card decks and magic sets,” Scherer said.

“I just never put magic sets away as a kid,” he said.

Scherer also is a balloon artist, creating animals, hats and even mermaids after his show for children.

Another performer, Carrie McQueen, does comedy and juggling while wearing wacky costumes — and walking on stilts through the Carnival by Drew Exposition. Also, well past sunrise, at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, a rooster-crowing contest was held.

Andrea Beal, 15, took first place with a Continental Polish White Black rooster.

“You have to shake the cage and then make chicken sounds to get them to crow,” said Beal, a fifth-year participant in 4-H. The rooster was the only one to crow in the standard division. “I want to bring the rooster back next year for another contest,”  Beal said.

In bantam division, Makenzie McMichael, 6, took first place. Her bird, a crossbreed roster, won the event last year.

The second annual toilet paper tower, benefiting the Families by Choice from donations of toilet paper, includes a poll ini which voters cast a ballot for $1 to decide if toilet paper should be hung “over or under.”

“People have a very strong opinion on whether the paper should go over or under,” Ryan said.

Ryan said putting toilet paper under makes it easier for small children to unravel the paper roll. However, over is easier for the elderly to use, she said. The agency has a booth in the exhibit hall where votes can be cast.

Last year the agency generated 36 rolls of toilet paper. In addition, coupons donated acquired another 24 rolls. The 60 rolls lasted three months at three shelters operated by Families by Choice, founder Muriel Ryan said.

“So far, we are at 21 rolls and counting. We are hoping to out-do last year. All the toilet paper collected will go to our shelters. Toilet paper is on a list of items that you can’t buy with food stamps, but people need,” Ryan said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or