Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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July 28, 2013

Record paid attendance days, million-dollar auction total highlight fair week

GOSHEN — File the 2013 Elkhart County 4-H Fair under Record.

Record auction? Check. Record attendance? As of Saturday morning, two fair days fit the bill.

Friday’s 4-H livestock sale hit a new plateau, the final tally being $1,042,127.60. The prior auction record of $964,127.20 was set in 2011.

“I think that’s just a testament to this community and what they give back,” 2013 fair president Tim Graber said after the Saturday morning fair board meeting. “...Those dollars, every dollar goes back to that 4-H’er’s hands.”

In terms of gate traffic, Monday and Wednesday set attendance records for those respective days of fair week. Mary Nisly, fair director of ticket taking, said 39,296 people were at the fair Monday, and 46,718 people on Wednesday.

Nisly indicated that two groups drove Wednesday’s attendance numbers. The Kids Day crowd turned out during the day, followed later by fans of country star Hunter Hayes, who put on a show that night.

“We had lines at gates we hardly ever have lines on Wednesday,” Nisly said Saturday. “It was crazy.”

Graber pointed out that the fair’s first Friday set a record of a different sort — lowest attendance for an opening day, going back to the 1990s. Nisly put the number at 16,173.

Two events were moved off the fairgrounds and indoors that day due to extreme heat. The Senior Queen Pageant was staged at Fairfield Junior-Senior High School, and the cheerleading contest took place at Goshen High School.

“Cheerleading is just a huge event out here anymore,” Graber said.

Sharon Wogoman, the fair’s director of ticket sellers, said that if not one ticket was sold Saturday, the fair would still have its best paid gate admission since 2008.

“It’s been an awesome year,” she said Saturday morning.

Big crowds and big numbers were a recurring theme at this year’s fair. And a festival of this size prompts no small concerns for the people organizing it. Count security as one issue.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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