Vendors at the 2014 Elkhart County 4-H Fair say they sold more this year than last, but it’s not due to new foods or increased attendance – they say cooler weather made the difference.
The high during fair week this year was 88 degrees Tuesday, July 22. Most days were in the low 60 to mid-70 degree range, with only Sunday, Monday and Tuesday marking temperatures in the 80s.
Kevin Pence owns Pence’s, which sells desserts like cotton candy and candy apples on the fairgrounds. He said business was a little better than usual during fair week at the six Pence’s trailers on the fairgrounds, partly because of the cool temperatures.
“People seem to be spending money,” he said.
Other vendors agreed.
Dean Gongwer of Nelson’s Chicken said Saturday that he doesn’t have exact numbers, but sales have been up this year for Nelson’s as well.
“I would say it’s been better than normal because we’ve had great weather,” Gongwer said.
The 4-H lamb club saw record sales at their booth on food row. Lamb Club advisory board treasurer Kathy Shearer said sales were up 25 to 30 percent from the average.
But in addition to the weather, she attributes the increase to new and improved sale items.
The lamb club did a trial run of refillable lemon shake-up cups last year, and sold out of 2,000 cups in four days. This year the club ordered 5,000 and sold about 4,000 by noon Saturday.
Lamb burgers went from one-quarter to one-third pound of meat per burger, and the price was raised to $4.
The refillable cups and thicker lamburgers were the main money-makers this year, she said, though they didn’t raise prices on either much.
“One of our goals is to keep prices down,” Shearer said.
Vendors that sold the same fair items as usual saw improvement too.
Sherrie Kropf, who sold ice cream and slices of pie at the Tri Kappa Pie Pantry on the fairgrounds, said she thinks people eat more in cool temperatures.
“When it’s really hot and muggy, all they want to do is drink something,” she said.
Tri Kappa made hundreds of dollars more in sales every day of fair week than last year on the same days. The one exception was Tuesday, the hottest day of fair week.
Todd Hawkins, owner of the Donut Family company, said the business had a good turnout this year at both of their mini donut trailers.
“It’s probably our best year yet,” he said. “We love when weather cooperates.”