GOSHEN —  Local fair sponsors got an early taste of the Elkhart County 4-H fair Thursday night.

“It’s just a way to say thank you,” Elkhart County 4-H Fair President Josh Culp said.

More than a dozen fair food vendors joined the fair board in thanking fair sponsors by offering free samples of their products. Nearly 300 sponsors came out for the evening event.

Food offered including mini corn dogs by the Corn Dog Factory, Philly Steak Sandwiches by McGrath’s Best Around, Mini Donuts by the Donut Family, Javi’s Mexican Tacos, Teakwood Arnold Palmer Freeze, Maple City Kiwanis Deep Fried Fish, Cinnamon City Baked Potato Samples, Pence’s Deep Fried Banana Pudding, Berry Patch Mini Cobbler, Wisconsin Cheese Deep Fried Cheddar Nuggets and more.

New to the fair this year is Cubans & Reubens – serving both cuban and reuben sandwiches for fairgoers.

Eastern Star will not be returning this year and as a result, the fair is offering their former location as a cooling station to help protect against the extreme heat forecasted this weekend.

“We are taking precautions and we are encouraging people to drink, get plenty of fluids and eat,” Culp said.

There are also cooling tents in various areas and cooling stations on River Boulevard and out by the grandstands.

The Elkhart County Community Center, near the main entrance to the fairgrounds, as well as the Ag Hall are both air conditioned buildings.

“We’re going to be working hard at keeping people cool this weekend,” Renee Troyer-Campbell, fair marketing, said.

This Friday, in celebration of the first day of the fair, entry is just $5.

“We decided that the first Friday is usually a little slower,” she said, adding that several food vendors are also offering discounted $5 specials for guests.

There is also a new concert series on Friday night.

“Normally it’s either country, or Christian or classic rock,” Trent Hostetler, president-elect, said. “This year we’re having a YouTube group come in.”

Echosmith performs pop renditions during Friday night’s festivities at 8 p.m..

Following the Princess Party in the Park at both 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., there will sprinklers going to give kids another opportunity to cool off.

“We’ve had such a wet and cold spring, a lot of people are ready to get out,” Hostetler said. “There’s lots of places to get in the shade and get cooled off.”

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