ELKHART — Young entrepreneurs in Elkhart County aren’t waiting for life to give them lemons to make lemonade.

The youngsters put their business skills to the test on Saturday by setting up and adding special touches to their lemonade stands to sell a variety of lemonade-based drinks, baked goods and other treats during the eighth annual Lemonade Day.

Participants could either choose their own location for selling their lemon products or join one of the five Lemonpalooza festival locations in the area which took place at Downtown Elkhart, Centier Bank in Goshen, Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, City Pavillion in Nappanee and Memorial Park in Bristol.

There were about 10 lemonade stands set up throughout downtown Elkhart on Saturday, according to Diana Evans, a Junior Achievement board member.

Junior Achievement volunteers to teach students about business, financial literacy and free enterprise throughout the year and have added Lemonade Day to the services it provides to students of Elkhart County. 

Evans said the students get backpacks about 12 weeks before the event equipped with materials to help them learn the process of starting a business.

“They learn how to put a budget and spreadsheet together, the hard work that goes into it,” she said. “They also practice going through a workbook which builds up into today at Lemonade Day.”

Outside the Lerner Theatre, Briannah White, 10, was setting up her stand, with help from her mother, Jennifer Rhoades.

White was selling regular, strawberry and blueberry lemonade for $1 and Oreos, cheez-its and other snacks for 75 cents.

The young businesswoman has an interest in someday running a restaurant and said she wanted to participate in Lemonade Day to get some early exposure into the business world. 

 “This was my first time participating in Lemonade Day and I’m glad I did,” she said. “So far it’s been a lot of fun.”

Some of the children are donating a portion of their proceeds to a nonprofit just as a business would, Evans said.

“The goal here is to really build up entrepreneurs to pour into the youth of our community,” she said. “So it’s a mentorship program as well as learning to run your own business.”

Majority of stands downtown were set up at the Civic Plaza.

Concord Intermediate School six-graders Claire Gartee, Avery McDowell, Evelyn Cuevas, Madison Thews and Maria Ward were serving lemonade, strawberry lemonade and limeade for 75 cents and sold cookies and other treats for $1.

Some of the youths’ earnings will be donated to the Red Cross.

Gartee said the experience Saturday taught them the importance of teamwork and working through obstacles.

“We definitely learned that not everything goes as planned and running a business takes a lot of work,” Gartee said.

Thews concurred. 

“We’ve had some arguments and disagreements, but we got through things and I think this process has brought us all closer as friends,” she said.

As friends Autumn McDowell and Kyra Klesser, both 11, served lemonade, Autumn’s mother, Stacey, stood by.

“I hope this day teaches them the balance of investing to get a business started with pricing and making the money and to know that hard work pays off,” Stacey said.

McDowell and Klesser both said they learned to offer products for a reasonable price.

“If you sell them for a smaller amount of money more people will want to buy them so you’ll get more profit,” McDowell said. 

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