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#1StudentNWI: A fair, a festival, and a feature in Kouts, Ind.

Maggie Evans
By: Maggie Evans Last Updated: August 4, 2022

The Porter County Fair just ended on Saturday, July 30, 2022. Even though the fair takes place in Valparaiso, Ind., July 21 through July 30 was an important week for the community of Kouts, Ind. 

There was so much to participate in, see, and eat at the fair this year. 

“This year I participated in the 4-H dog project and in Photography,” said Jesslyn Gudeman, a senior at Kouts High School. 

Sophomore Claire Cunningham spent the day with her friends, walking through the animal barns, going on rides, and eating dinner together.

“My favorite part was the poultry barn with the chickens,” said Cunningham. 

While many Kouts High School students just enjoyed viewing the animals at the fair, others brought their own animals to show off at the fair.

“I showed my animals this year at the fair. I show pigs, goats, sheep, and cattle,” said Senior Madison Birky.

Even though there was so much to do, there still were events and memories that stood out from the rest. 

“My favorite part about the fair was spending time with and building better relationships with my friends. I also enjoyed how being at the fair makes me feel like a kid again instead of a person who has to start filling out college applications in the next few weeks,” said Gudeman. 

“My favorite part was seeing the community come together on auction night to support a family going through a tough time right now,” said Birky. 

Birky is referencing the Duttlinger Family Scholarship Fund. The oldest son, Justin, won Reserved Grand Champion on his 300-pound gilt, a female pig less than six month old. At auction, she was sold for $340 per pound making a grand total of $102,000. His goat was also sold for $14,000. The money will go to the Duttlinger family for the two sons' college fund as their mother is battling cancer. 

All 300 pounds of the pig will be donated to the Northwest Indiana Food Bank to help feed families in the community. 

What’s coming up: 

On Saturday, August 27, the whole town of Kouts will come together to celebrate Kouts Pork Fest. Kouts Pork Fest is a festival celebrating pigs and the meat they give. 

Thousands of people will be packed into the streets of this small town that has a population of only about 2,000. The population size of Kouts can easily double just for this one event, as it is a popular one. 

Festivities will commence at 8 a.m and will not end until 5 p.m. The kick-off event is the Country Classic 5K Walk/Run. 

Later, there will be an hour-long parade that will begin at 10:30 a.m. The parade route starts at the Kouts Public Library and will go straight down Main Street ending at Family Express. 

Other activities will include a pork burger eating contest, a double-elimination cornhole tournament, and a pig weight-guessing contest.

The street will be lined with over 100 vendors selling food, arts, and crafts, and a multitude of other items, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. There will also be live entertainment. 

Last year, Kouts Pork Fest hosted a beer garden from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m open to all ages and featuring live bands. Anyone wanting to drink had to be at least 21.  As of August 1, 2022, the beer garden is a tentative event. 

Kouts Pork Fest is a great way to send off summer before temperatures start dropping as autumn approaches. Admission is free and there’s plenty of fun in store for all who attend.

Community Spotlight: 

Richard Marrell has owned the business Marrel’s on 404 S Main Street since last July. The business started as a storefront for woodworking, but there is so much more happening inside. There is not a focus on one specific area of goods and services. It is a space for handmade artistic creativity for the community. 

When customers come in, there is always a new project being worked on. There is lumber that can be used for a variety of projects, such as boat building and restoration, fiberglass work, resin, bait & tackle, geodes, fabrics to produce clothing, and pre-made clothes, jewelry, housewares, outdoor supplies, and custom vinyl lettering.

Marrell himself is from Terre Haute and grew up in an entrepreneurial family; his grandparents had owned a restaurant in Valparaiso for 50 years. 

“When I came home from the Navy, I thought about opening a restaurant also, but I started working for the University of Chicago, and then I worked from the University of Chicago to the Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Network, and that’s where I came up with the idea to make the first cremation-friendly products,” he said.

Marrell also owns RLM Tissue Bank Prosthetics which also resides on 404 S Main Street. Since 2003, the business has manufactured wooden products as prosthetics for those who have donated tissues after death.

“It seemed like it was a good fit for me to make these wooden products. My grandpa and I spent a lot of time together and we would fix things and use tools all the time, so I’m really good at making things,” he said. 

Being a part of the Kouts community usually means having a positive experience and Marrell’s is no exception. 

“People are very interested in what we’re doing here. I have a good relationship with our neighbors. I’ve really enjoyed being here. It does feel like a really tight community,” he said.

Future plans for Marrell’s include a Build-It Kids for young people and children, “how to build” classes, and a “how to library” that will include books that the community can borrow for free and learn how to restore furniture or how to build a sailboat. In November, Marrel’s may have a fashion show or an open house.