In two separate moves, the Kosciusko County Fair Board this week banned tent camping on the fairgrounds and decided to make almost all of the fairgrounds tobacco-free during the upcoming fair week.

Tent camping at the fairground’s campground was eliminated Monday by the fair board in an attempt to reduce the number of squatters – apparently often homeless – who have been taking up residence on the property in Warsaw, said Fair Board President Kevin Harris.

The fair board took the step after learning some of those who stay in tents end up remaining without paying.

The fairgrounds has a campground on the west end where campers and small RVs congregate and tents can be set up.

Under the old policy, tents could be pitched for $18 per night for primitive accommodations or about $28 per night if they wanted access to electricity and water.

Tent camping has always been a sparsely used option in the campground.

Most of the time, the tent campers set up sporadically around the camping area.

Officials contend the problem was accentuated after local church officials began providing money to people struggling with immediate housing needs so they could buy a tent. Apparently, the people were being told they can set up tents at the fairgrounds.

Some of the folks appeared to be transient and there were reports of some illegal drug use.

Interest in using the restrooms and shower area near the grandstand had caused other problems.

The bathroom and showers were popular in the winter because the building was heated. The building was then locked during winter months, but the doors were broken to gain access, Harris said.

The problems have been going on for a few years, Harris said.

“I feel bad for these people, but this isn’t the place for them,” Harris said.

The board will provide exceptions for the tent policy for groups such as Boy Scouts.

In another matter, the fair board on Monday voted to make the entire fairgrounds tobacco free during fair week.

The grandstand has been smoke free for years and organizers tried to ban smoking on the kid-friendly midway for two years.

The move came after prompts from the Kosciusko County Tobacco Free Coalition, said Jeannette Wood, a spokesperson for the fair board.

The ban includes all types of tobacco and vaping, too, Wood said.

An exception will be in place for the campground, she said.

No penalty for violating the policy was discussed.

Wood said fair officials who see somebody smoking will ask them to stop.

The board could still set aside a smoking area, an issue that could be addressed when the  the fair board meets July 5, Wood said.

She said the coalition will provide signs.

Fair week begins July 8.