Welcoming people of all abilities to the fair

Monday kicked off day four of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair. Organizers planned the day to be dedicated to a Disabilities Awareness Day at the fairgrounds. 

This is the 6th year they have had an awareness day of the kind and Fair Board Director and Disability Awareness Day Chairman Doug Thorne said this is a way to give back to the community.

“I think it’s just another example of how the fair really provides service to the community and I really appreciate the fact that the fair has given us that opportunity,” said Thorne.

The events kicked off at 9:30 in the Heritage Park area of the fairgrounds. There were Special Olympics type games and competitions. Additionally, about 20 rides on Midway were altered so those in attendance could join in on fair activities.

“We’ll have rides that will be turned off in terms of the lights and the sounds, they will ride a little bit slower,” he added.

They turned off the lights on some of the rides as well as slowed them down so people who have audio and visual disabilities could ride them.

“Parents who know that this is the only chance a family member may get to ride a ride at the fair and to experience have been very appreciative.”

He recalled how much the program has grown over the last few years.

“It has really been an organic program. It has grown every year. We have more partners this year. We have 12 different agencies who provide services to individuals living with disabilities who will be partnering with us.”

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