Education Day at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair meant free admission, fun times for students

    Education Day will return at next year’s fair, an organizer said. 

    Posted on July 18, 2014 at 5:43 p.m.

    Eight-year-old Gabriella Garrison and her brother JJ Garrison, 6,  squealed and covered their eyes as the man on the stage slowly, carefully, lowered himself onto a bed of nails.

    But when they looked up, Elkhart Memorial Physics teacher John Taylor was unhurt.

    Taylor and several Elkhart students incorporated the bed of nails into a science demonstration during their time on stage at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair’s Education Day on Friday, July 18. 

    Taylor later said he likes getting kids interested in science at a young age.

    "They are at the age when science is amazing, and I’m hoping they keep that fire," he said. 

    Six Elkhart County school districts performed on Heritage Park stage at the fairgrounds for the fair’s first Education Day.

    In addition to the science demonstration from Elkhart, Goshen’s drumline and Concord’s jazz and dance groups performed.

    Middlebury students played violin and sang, Fairfield sent a saxophone quartet and Wa-Nee featured a student choir.

    Chad Stamm, one of the fair board members in charge of the event, said Education Day will become a regular event at the fair. 

    Since students and school employees were admitted free until 3 p.m. on Friday, the fair needed sponsors to recoup some of those lost admission fees. 

    TCU and Martin’s Supermarkets both sponsored Education Day to help with that, Stamm said. 

    "Education is definitely important to us as a financial institution,” Kurt Warner of TCU Insurance said. “(Sponsoring Education Day) is a way for us to give back to the schools and to the kids.”

    One of the many families who benefited from the free admission for students on Friday was the Pontius family from Elkhart.

    Caleb and Susan Pontius decided to bring their three children, Ethan, 7, Elena, 5, and Isaac, 3, to the fair on Friday because of the nice weather and what they hoped would be a smaller crowd on the opening day.

    They were surprised to learn that they didn't have to pay admission for Ethan and Elena, who are both in school.  

    The family visits the fair every year so the kids can ride the carnival rides and so the whole family can enjoy the weather and “eat a bunch of bad food,” Caleb Pontius said. 

    Follow reporter Lydia Sheaks on Twitter at @LydiaSheaks

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