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Elkhart County Fair food passes the test

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -- One of the most unique things about county fairs across Michiana is the food. Everything from the basics like Elephant Ears to corn dogs dipped in Fruity Pebbles. What you may not realize is just how clean these food vendors are in what can be a dirty environment.

Inspectors from the Elkhart County Health Department inspect fair trailers at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair every day. Check-ups start the Wednesday before the fair to make sure everything is clean and to check that workers are following food preparation regulations.
 
“If they can’t pass inspection then we won’t issue a license. At that point they’re not supposed to sell any food to anybody and they’re supposed to stay closed,” Elkhart County Health Department official Karla Kreczmer said.
 
Because of these frequent inspections, vendors have to keep things in tip-top shape at all times.
 
“We’re always inspected. They come and see us, they check our temperatures on almost a daily basis, and then they do full inspections almost two or three times during the fair. We’re always prepared. We have to be,” Joe's Gyros owner Joe Whisler said.
 
Rhonda Miller owns the Pretzel Wagon and has been in business at the fair for thirteen years. She said there are two things that are key to keeping her trailer clean.
 
“A lot of bleach water and scrubbing the floors,” Miller said.
 
Many fair-goers told ABC 57 they are pleased with the service at the fair and it's the reason they come back each year.
 
“Some of the vendors are right up there with restaurants and stuff. It’s really tasty and good, you don’t have a stomach ache when you leave,” fair-goer Mark Bond said.
 
Miller has made friends with many of the returning food vendors and said each year, most have no problem playing by the rules.
 
“Most of us pretty much abide by the rules and everything’s fine,” Miller said.
 
For that, fair regulars like Mark Bond, said they are grateful.
 
“They’ve got to make sure things are clean and I’m glad they do it for me. It keeps me safe,” Bond said.
 
The Health Department will hand out an award for the cleanest food vendor Thursday. Miller has won the award once for the Pretzel Wagon's cleanliness, and Whisler has won twice in the past for keeping Joe's Gyros clean and sanitary. Both said they hope to win the award again this year.

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