Wednesday, July 17, 2013

County Fair Time

Jill's very first year of 4-H foods judging

Today is the first day of the Stafford County Fair. Even though I haven't had 4-Hers at my house for the past seven years, I'm still a superintendent for 4-H Foods and Nutrition. Yesterday, I spent part of the day setting up for the judging and calling workers.
She looks scared to death to talk to the judge. The innate talker finally won out in subsequent 4-H years! I also remember that cake. It was entered in a microwave division. It wasn't that good, but we didn't know much at the time. There's no microwave class at the 2013 Stafford County Fair. That's a good thing!
This is the third year we're doing the judging in a nearby church basement, which certainly helps combat the heat on the fairgrounds (until I need to set up the displays and get everything organized there).

Randy will help weigh in pigs and then will help during the swine judging on Thursday morning. So, even though this is the seventh year we are "4-Her-less," we still find small ways to help out. (True confessions: We are definitely not as involved as we once were. We retired after a dozen years as community leaders when Brent graduated. And I gave up the local foods leader job last year after beginning when Jill was a young 4-Her.)

Still, why do we (and a bunch of other 4-Her-less people) continue to show up to work? It's because of what 4-H did for me and my family.
A 4-H talk circa 1973 or so
Both Randy and I are 4-H veterans, he in Stafford County and me in Pratt County. (I'm sad that the two fairs are the same week this summer, so I won't make it to my home fair this year.)
Randy in 1967, a 5th grader and his first year in Stafford County 4-H with his first 4-H steer.
Jill and Brent both joined 4-H as soon as they were old enough. I look at that photo of Jill with her first-year cake (the photos at the top of this post), and I think about how much she (and I) grew and learned. She went from that uneasy first-year 4-Her to a confident leader.
She chose her profession - a registered dietitian - at least in part because of 4-H foods and nutrition.

Randy continues to advise people on their bucket calf and beef projects (when asked) for much the same reason. Our kids learned so much through that project. And their livestock premium auctions proceeds also helped them pay some of their college expenses.
They both learned that it takes perseverance. You sometimes have to dig in your heels to get things accomplished. There's no better lesson on that than trying to break a bucket calf to lead.
4-H is a powerful youth program:
Young people in 4-H are three times more likely to contribute to their communities than youth not participating in 4-H. 4-Hers all across the nation are empowered to take on the leading issues of their towns, counties and states and make a lasting difference. ... 4-H youth get the hands-on, real-world experience they need to become leaders and to make positive differences in their communities.
"The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development"
 from Tufts University 
I, too, have case study after case study to back it up. My research isn't done in the hallowed halls of a university like Tufts. It's more in the sweat produced by working side-by-side with 4-Hers, parents and other volunteers on a hot day in July.
Brent's final year of 4-H - 2006
I'll have even more real-life examples when the last of the exhibits comes down Saturday evening. Good luck 4-Hers, parents and volunteers! And, if you're in the neighborhood, stop by the Stafford County Fairgrounds on North Main in Stafford, Wednesday through Saturday, and be part of the fair!

This post is revised from the archives.


  1. Kim,
    You, Randy and my folks have a similar role, kids out of 4-H and still active. Mom and Dad are advisors to area 4-Hers. I think Mom still helps with the Round Robin Showmanship and takes pictures for the local paper.

    I learned earlier this week that The Buffalo County, NE Fair that I showed at is celebrating 100 years this year.

    I also learned that this is the first year that Mom and Dad will not have any calves at the fair. They spent the majority of their marriage raising and selling a handful of Club Calves. Today their cattle are not "clubby" enough. They had show calves at the fair for well over 30 years.

    Stay cool and enjoy the fair!

    1. It is cooler for fair week, if you compare to the last two years. But, it's still plenty toasty with the humidity, etc. It certainly helps to have the foods judging in a nearby. air-conditioned church basement, even when we have to haul a bunch of it to the fairgrounds afterwards and spend some time setting up the display, etc., in a very hot tin building. One of my former 4-H cooking students won overall Grand Champion today and her sister did well, too. I still love seeing kids succeed!

  2. Our fair, (Leavenworth County) is in two weeks. It's long on 4 H and livestock, and short on preserved foods and hand made goods. I'll still go and enjoy it, though. My home county is Wyandotte, and our fair is next week... can't wait to go and see how the new fair grounds has been expanded!

    1. I would say that we still have a fair amount of open class exhibitors, especially in foods, textiles, arts and crafts and photography. I haven't looked yet, but I'm guessing open class horticulture was back up some this year, since we've gotten a little rain. Enjoy your fairs!

  3. While I was never in 4-H, I certainly was around lots of 4-Hers & never missed a fair. I miss the Stafford County Fair & all the fun surrounding it. Our county fair is held a few miles from us, but it certainly doesn't have the same feel as the ones I grew up attending. Enjoy the fair & thanks for continuing to help make memories for the next generation.

    1. We're off to a good start! I'm glad to have another 4-H foods year judged and on display. Randy is at the fairgrounds helping weigh in pigs and will hep with the swine show tomorrow AM. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to bake for the Hudson Cream Flour bakefest. I entered a bunch of open class photos. We'll see how I did later today or tomorrow. And, whether I win or not, it's fun to be part of the fair!

  4. 4-H is such a wonderful program. I love the small county fairs. Ours is Labor Day Weekend. When I was in 4-H we were the first group of kids to go to State in gymkhana! And that wasn't that long ago!

    1. Yes, 4-H has been part of our families for a long time. Both my parents were in 4-H, too, and both are still supporters of the program in my home county.