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Free, healthy snack stations planned for 2015 Elkhart County 4-H Fair

For parents with children in tow, escaping the fried food of the Elkhart County 4-H Fair for an afternoon lunch isn’t always easy.

This year, fair organizers are once again providing healthy and interactive snack options for children at no cost.

Two farm to table cooking classes for kids classes, both located at the Youth Ag Ed Tent, will introduce participants to the benefits of health-conscious eating and meal preparation. 

“Those fill up pretty quickly, especially on Wednesday since it’s Kids Day,” said Fair Board Director Sara Granberg. “So, there’s a lot people with their kids and people who have done it year after year know it’s on the schedule and they like to come back to it.”

The first class will take place at 1 p.m. Monday, July 27, and will likely include taco stations, although Granberg said she was still unsure of the exact menu for that day.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, July 29 , Paul Cataldo of Antonio’s Italian Ristorante will lead kids through the fairgrounds’ garden area, educating them on the pizza-making process.

“First, they walk through the garden and point out the tomatoes, peppers and onions and the basil and oregano,” Granberg explained. “Then, they go back into the tent to tables with knives and cutting boards, they cut up all of their produce, and kind of go through step-by-step and then they get to make their pizza.”

Granberg said space for both classes is limited to about 40 attendees on a first-come basis. 

For a quick re-fueling, five vendors will offer free bite-sized fruits and vegetables from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Wednesday, July 29, as part of Snacks in the Garden at Young MacDonald’s Farm. 

Vendors so far include Goshen Farmers Market, Whole Foods Market, Northwood High School’s Future Farmers of America and Maple City Market.

Participating vendors were asked to donate between 250 and 300 servings of fruits and vegetables, which, according to Granberg, are usually gone by the event’s end. She suggests arriving early to ensure a sample. 

Smaller children not yet ready to wield a knife in the kitchen will still have an opportunity to learn about the origins of their food. From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the fair, Young MacDonald’s Farm will feature Premier Driving Institute’s Farm to Market Driving Course.

Children will drive battery-powered tractors as they collect ten different items like rubber chickens, eggs and herbs before taking them to the simulated “market.”

“Last year, we had over 8,000 kids ride the tractors. It’s so weather dependent, but if we have good weather like we did last year, I would expect that many,” Granberg said. “It’s the only free ride at the fair — just nonstop rides.”

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