GOSHEN — After months of preparation, the Elkhart County 4-H Fair starts Friday, July 19.
It’s an unparalleled display of this community: from Amish horsemen to demolition derby drivers, bunnies to beef, swimming pools to chiropractors, tractors to turtles, babies to old-timers, frog jumps to fireworks to food.
You’ll find not only racial diversity in the gigantic crowd, but people come here from around the region, the nation and even the world for a diverse list of events.
You’ll also find just how much work the children and teens of this area can devote to their 4-H projects, whether animals or artistic.
Though attendance fluctuates depending on the weather, it’s typically 225,000 to 260,000 during the fair’s nine-day run. “We take a lot for granted, I think, here as a community as to what the fair is and how many man hours go into it,” said Tim Graber, this year’s president of the fair board.
While the fair is a lifelong annual tradition for some people, this year everyone will find some differences. There will be more tractors in a more visible place near the main entrance at Gate G, and there will be more and more youth activities and displays between the Farmstead and Heritage Park on the northwest side of the grounds.
While the fair is first and foremost a display of the local 4-H program, there’s much more than livestock and popcorn. There’s one night devoted to Latino bands, and classic rock will pour out of the main stage one night. Cheerleaders will compete and dance teams will perform, and there’s a magician, a ventriloquist, elephants and Harlem Wizards Trick Hoops.
In addition to preparations by 4-H clubs and months of work on the grounds by various members of the fair board, the midway company has already started moving in.
The Crazy Mouse rollercoaster is assembled, ready for riders later in the week, and other rides have been arriving by truck, said Kristy Ambrosen, fair spokeswoman. Fair volunteers and staff members are in the midst of a flurry of activity, “just getting all the last-minute stuff put together,” Ambrosen said. “Everything’s moving, everything seems to be working,” she said.
Unlike last year, when fair organizers instituted a fire ban and were anxious about fireworks, this year “the weather is cooperating,” Ambrosen said.
The AccuWeather.com forecast indicates a promising fair. After a warm start Friday with a high of 89, the forecast high drops to into the upper 70s and lower 80s for much of the fair, with temperatures not reaching the 90s until the final day of the fair.
The Elkhart Truth will bring you information about the fair you won’t find anywhere else:
Thursday, July 18, you’ll find our special section devoted to the fair. It will include the full schedule, plus details about the motorsports, the concerts, the rodeo, the rides, the sporting events, the parade and many of the other major events, plus introduce you to the queen candidates and a few of the 4-H clubs that exhibit during the fair.
Every day during the fair we’ll offer weather forecasts, detailed stories about the fair, contest results and highlights of the day for our print readers. We’ll have all of that and more on elkharttruth.com, where people will find frequent updates from the fairgrounds. We’ll also have live video from the fairgrounds so you can check out the weather and the crowds before heading out.
Dining A La King will tell you Monday, July 15, what new fair foods will be available this year, and that’s just for starters. Marshall King won’t, however, sample all nine corn dog flavors.
For iPad users, you’ll be able to download our interactive fair information app in the app store before the start of the fair.
You’ll also be able to find us in person at a booth on the grounds during the nine-day run of the fair, where we’ll be glad to take your picture, sign you up for a subscription and talk news with you.