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4-H Fairgrounds renting space for business meetings

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind.—The summer heat is on its way which means it is almost fair time!

But with the coronavirus pandemic changing things every day, is the annual attractions something we can still look forward to?

“It impacts the local hotel chains, local businesses in the area, the business it brings to them,” said Jeremy D’Angelo, Marketing and Sponsorship Coordinator. “There are food vendors, and other vendors that sell items here on the fair grounds. The 4H members that have worked so hard with their animals that want to show and sell their animals in the auction so there’s a lot more than just us in play when putting on a fair.”

When the pandemic hit, worries about this year’s fair started to swirl.

The Elkhart County 4-H group has been working with the state and other fairs to try and figure out what the best course of action is for this year’s fair which is scheduled just 72 days away at the end of July.

“We haven’t decided on anything yet, we’re still working towards fair,” said D’Angelo. “And we are still hopeful of that. We’re going to announce any restrictions on social distancing or changes around June 1st so we’re holding out till later on we don’t want to cancel prematurely.”

Thankfully, there is still some hope that the fair will go on as scheduled!

However, for the past 7 weeks the other usual business at the grounds has completely stopped.

“They are normally rented out weekend by weekend rallies, quinceaneras, weddings, birthday parties, graduation parties the whole 9,” said Jaime Eymer, Events Coordinator for the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds.

With open spaces and plenty of businesses trying to come back to work physically, they saw an opportunity to help out their Michiana community.

 “So we sat down and thought, but why can’t we offer it for a few hours here and there and we will take care of cleaning disinfecting spaces and take care of the set up and they just come and do their meeting and then go on about their day,” said D’Angelo.

While trying to allow spaces for socially-distant meetings the coordinators came up with a $50 base charge that can go up depending on group size and need to give businesses the opportunity to meet with their co-workers in person in a safe and clean environment.

“One set up, cleaned before and after your meeting. You’ll just do your meeting for however many hours you need it for,” said Eymer.

Then the crew will take care of the clean up because their goal is always to serve their Michiana neighbors.

 “We are a non-profit so we are not here to make a bunch of money we’re here to help the community,” said D’Angelo.

The rooms would be set up with technology and microphone capabilities with chairs physically distanced by 6 feet.

The rooms available can accommodate groups of 15 all the way up to 100 safely.

Right now, the largest group can be 25 as per the CDC and government guidelines.

However, as soon as the groups are extended to 100 and 250, so will the grounds.

The staff says so far, people have been very interested in this option.

 “It’s crazy people are calling about June and their events in October,” said Eymer.

And there is still hope on the horizon.

“Were hoping once these restrictions are lifted we can get back to some sort of normalcy again and resume business so we’re trying to stay hopeful right now,” said D’Angelo.

If you have any questions or are wanting to rent a space you can reach out to the fairgrounds via email at jamie@4hfair.org or by phone at 574-533-3247.

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