HANCOCK COUNTY – Sixteen-year-old Ava Wilhelm strolled around the Hancock County 4-H Fair Tuesday evening licking ice cream from a waffle cone as the sweet treat dripped down her hand.

Walking through the fairgrounds with her mom, the Greenfield teen didn’t seem to mind the muggy weather.

The county fair officially opened Tuesday to unseasonably hot and humid conditions.

With daily high temperatures forecasted between the upper 80s to mid-90s each day – and the percentage of humidity clocking in between the mid-50s to mid-70s – it’s going to be a hot one, to say the least.

“This week’s heat is a concern for everyone,” said Amber Barks, director of Hancock County 4-H Youth Development.

“The health of our 4-H members and their animals remains our top priority,” she said.

Barks said she and other 4-H officials have been urging 4-Hers to stay hydrated and ensure their animals have fresh water. Fans will be running to keep the animals cool, said Barks, and many small animals will have frozen water bottles in their cages.

“We schedule animal transport during cooler parts of the day to avoid heat stress,” she said.

During the fair’s first 4-H competition Tuesday night – the canine showmanship, obedience and agility show – kids, dogs and a few parents hung out in pens that will be taken over by goats and other livestock later in the week.

Fans were whirring and bottled water was flowing to keep the crowd cool. In one empty pen, a five-gallon jug of water sat beside a 24-pack of bottled water, in preparation for the hot week ahead.

While this week’s weather likely won’t be breaking any records – the county fair dates back to 1856, and the hottest temperature recorded for June was well over 106 degrees – it will be among the hottest.

The average high temperature for Greenfield in June falls between 78°F to 84° and rarely exceeds 90°.

While it might feel oppressive, there’s a certain segment of fair vendors who will no doubt benefit from increased sales – those peddling icy cold beverages, lemonade shake-ups, ice cream and the perennial fair favorite, Pineapple Whip.

Business was good at the Wild West Soda stand on Tuesday as a steady stream of fairgoers stopped by for a flavored soda or ice cold bottle of water. The water bottles were selling fast as customers grabbed them from a wooden cooler for $2 apiece.

Owner Julie Wenger of Fortville takes her Western-themed soda stand to multiple fairs and festivals each year. Higher temperatures meant higher sales, she said.

“I’m good with it,” she said with a smile.

While fairgoers like Wilhelm may indulge in a sweet treat to beat the heat this week, fair officials urge the public and 4-H participants to take proper precautions to stay safe.

“We look forward to a great fair and will make necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our youth and their animals,” said Barks. “If you are coming to the fair, we encourage everyone to stay hydrated and to take a break from the heat by coming to the (air-conditioned) exhibit hall to see all the wonderful 4-H exhibits.”