Jay County’s Jim Bob McEwen, second from left, stands with others who were honored last week with state passes to the Indiana State Fair. McEwen has been a fixture at the state fair for decades with his pair of oxen and border collie demonstrations. (Special to The Commercial Review/Ami Huffman)
Jay County’s Jim Bob McEwen, second from left, stands with others who were honored last week with state passes to the Indiana State Fair. McEwen has been a fixture at the state fair for decades with his pair of oxen and border collie demonstrations. (Special to The Commercial Review/Ami Huffman)
Jay County’s Jim Bob McEwen has been honored with a lifetime pass to the Indiana State Fair.

“They wait until you’re 81 years old then give you a lifetime pass,” McEwen joked this week.

He and six other recipients were presented the passes last week at the fair by the Indiana State Fair Board.

“It’s quite an honor,” he said.

In McEwen’s case, the lifetime pass recognizes decades of service. For more than 30 years, he performed border collie demonstrations in the fairgrounds coliseum.

And for nearly that long, McEwen’s pair of oxen — Amos and Andy — were featured in the fair’s Farmers’ Day Parade and at the Pioneer Village at the fairgrounds. The opera house at the Pioneer Village was the site of last week’s presentation with family and friends on hand for the occasion.

McEwen has been an integral part of the Pioneer Village since its inception, working with the late Maury Williamson of the Purdue Ag Alumni Association.

But his involvement in the state fair dates back to childhood.

“It started when I was 10 years old and saw a border collie demonstration in the coliseum,” McEwen said. “The bug bit me.”

These days, McEwen is focused on another of his pet projects — the 10th annual Jay County Tourism Bureau’s tractor ride set for next Tuesday to help kick off the Tri-State Gas Engine and Tractor Association Show.

Though the route is still taking shape, plans call for the tractor ride to take a lunch break at the old Salamonie schoolhouse before heading on to the fairgrounds for ice cream at the end of the ride.