On the outskirts of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair there’s a game that’s a little different than the common toss-a-ball-and-win booth.
Participants in this game get a reward if they can simply “Fool the Guesser.”
“I’m guessing the age, the birthday or the weight and if I’m wrong, you win a prize,” Ray DeFrates says into his headset, his voice echoing from the loudspeaker at the top of his booth. Kids get a prize every time.
Defrates is the Guesser, and his title and challenge is painted in big letters all over his booth. DeFrates also guesses the due date of pregnant women, though he watches who he calls that these days.
“I called a lady over and I wanted to guess her due date, and she wasn’t pregnant,” DeFrates said. “That was an experience. She came back, told me, but she wasn’t really mad at me. She just said that she could see the oversight.”
The Guesser jokes with passers-by as they go by his booth, asking them if they’d like to try his challenge. At one point, he accurately guesses the age of a 38-year-old man. Sometimes, he’s a month off a small child’s birthday.
Defrates says he’s right about 40 percent of time.
“It’s just from, I think, doing it so many years, you learn what the people look like,” DeFrates said, who has been guessing for 57 years at different carnivals and fairs.
“It’s just a habit now. I just enjoy it, I just love people."
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