For some, the fair is all about the food. For others, it’s the rides. But for 4-H members, it’s about all that hard work put into their projects finally paying off.
"We have approximately 1800 youth in our 4-H program which is the biggest part of our Jr. fair program," said 4-H extension educator Michelle Fehr.
While 4-H encompasses a wide range of activities, many of those 1800 are involved with showing animals.
"This year we tagged in about 330 market hogs, approximately 75 market steers, approximately 87 market goats," Fehr said. "We have about 150 horses here. There’s a lot of rabbits, a lot of birds. We had almost 90 market goats. We’ve got a lot of livestock here and a lot of kids working really hard."
And in many cases, working really hard with more than one animal.
"I have a market steer, a market goat, and a market hog," said Emily Reed of Tri-Valley Country Kids 4-H
"Me and my brother have a market steer, market lambs, breeding lambs, market hogs, dairy," said New Concord Connections’ Clayton Lake.
Having all those animals to take care of and show makes time management during the fair no easy task.
"It’s very hard," Reed said. "I’ve got my brother and my dad who really help me a lot. It’s running and phone calls and writing out your schedule."
But let’s not forget, these 4-H’ers are kept plenty busy with their projects long before the fair even rolls around.
"Feeding them right. Working them, training them. Like the hog, you’ve got to work and drive him so he does well in the ring. And then the goat, you’ve got to work with him and set him up so that they’re used to showing," Reed said.
"It is a great opportunity for our kids to learn, to build lots of life skills–to learn about leadership, teamwork, responsibility–there’s a lot of responsibility for these kids," Fehr said.
Even though fair week can be chaotic and come with challenges, getting to show their animal and being recognized for their hard work makes it all worth their time in the end.
"It’s fun showing the cows. I like being around them," said Madeline Russell of Big Rascals 4-H.
Emily Reed agreed, saying, "Once you show them, you’re just so relieved and it’s great."
Showing is also the best part for Lake. "The fun part’s coming to the fair and seeing how good you did with your project all this summer with all your hard work."