VALPARAISO — Heavy morning downpours and high afternoon temperatures didn't deter Porter County residents from checking out the first day of this year's fair. The Porter County Fair kicked off 10 days of activities yesterday with an opening ceremony and an afternoon full of entertainment.

Freshly squeezed lemonade will undoubtedly be the hot ticket item at this year's fair due to soaring temperatures this weekend. Many families carried multiple souvenir cups of the lemonade, which is sold at a majority of the food stands. 

Visitors also took advantage of the newly renovated expo center and air-conditioned 4-H exhibit halls to escape the heat. Inside one of the halls, 4-Hers displayed projects in categories such as sewing, photography and aquatic science. Alyvia Hornback, a sixth-grader, created a novelty project to change "an automatic drip coffee pot into an aquatic environment for a beta fish" and in the pot swam her fish, Mr. Coffee. Her project was labeled Reserve Grand Champion.

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Despite temperatures reaching 88 degrees after 6 p.m., a crowd was in line to enter the grandstand for the start of a performance by Darci Lynne Farmer, 14-year-old singer and ventriloquist. In an interview with the Times earlier this month, Farmer said performing is a passion of hers and when she performs and hears the laughs, it means "that I've definitely done my job as a person."

"I feel like whenever I perform if they're clapping, then they're having a great time and I know I've done what I came here to do," Farmer said.

Becky Bruce celebrated her 11th birthday by coming to Farmer's performance. Friends Avery Smith, 10, and Tatiana Seely, 20, along with Bruce's mother, Mary, all carried signs to welcome Farmer to Porter County.

"It's my birthday today, Darci Lynne" and "Hey Petunia, it's her birthday and my first live show" waved toward the stage. The girls were very enthusiastic to see Farmer perform and antsy to get to their seats.

In the free entertainment area, two performers in the Ninja Experience flipped and jumped their way to the top of a 15-foot-high wall to the applause of adults and children. Maj. Pain Gabe gave advice to future ninja performers in the audience after finishing the obstacle course: always play on the monkey bars and "eat your greens."

More fun at the fair continues over the weekend, with 4-H shows and competitions occurring each day. Tonight's grandstand performance by hit country artist Luke Combs with special guest Jameson Rodgers  is sold out, but performances by Newsboys with special guest Sidewalk Prophets on Saturday and Sawyer Brown and Diamond Rio on Sunday still have tickets available for purchase at www.portercountyfair.com.

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Porter County General Assignment Reporter

Emily covers Porter County news and features for The Times. A transplant from NW Ohio to NWI, Emily loves talking to people and hearing their stories. She graduated from the University of Toledo in 2018 and believes all dogs are good dogs.