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County Fair offers opportunities for all

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Bourbon County Fair is in full swing this week. If you haven't already been to the fair, I hope you plan to spend some time there.

For 4-H families, the fair is the culmination of a year's work. It is a showcase of what 4-H members have learned and the skills they have developed through project work. It is evidence that 4-H members do "Learn by Doing." But even though 4-H members compete at the fair for ribbons and trophies, the real rewards of 4-H and of participating in the county fair are less tangible.

4-H teaches life skills which will be valuable to members long after the fair ribbons have been put away in boxes and the trophies and plaques have tarnished. 4-H members learn to set goals and to work to accomplish them. They learn to work with others and to contribute to community activities. Self confidence and speaking ability develop as they take part in various 4-H activities. And youth and parents spend quality time together, problem solving, sharing ideas, and learning to respect each other's opinions.

County fairs are a learning experience for everyone, but particularly for the 4-H members who show and exhibit. Members spend much time planning and preparing the many exhibits they show. All this hard work develops into learning more about a topic, whether it be baking cookies, taking a picture, or raising livestock. For many, the skills and knowledge learned in 4-H may lead them to a future career.

For 4-H members the fair is about more than exhibiting an item or an animal and receiving a ribbon. It's about working on a project until it's completed, trying again when an exhibit doesn't turn out as expected, or practicing patience when an animal misbehaves in the show ring. Some of the best life lessons are learned not by winning, but by being gracious in accepting a judge's decision to award a coveted trophy to a fellow member.

Judging of some exhibits, such as foods, clothing, arts and crafts, and photography was done in a conference between the judge and the 4-H member. In conference judging, the member talks with the judge and explains the steps taken to produce the product or item. He also describes any difficulties encountered and any special techniques which have been learned. The judge can offer suggestions on things that could have been done differently to improve the item. The judging process becomes much more than just receiving a ribbon rating. The 4-H members learn how to improve and build on the skills they have already learned. Even though judges are positive and supportive, it takes some courage and self confidence for a youngster to present his or her work to an adult to be critiqued.

Last week clothing construction and clothing buymanship judging was done in a conference setting. Youth presented themselves to a judge, wearing outfits whey had sewn or purchased. They were expected to share with the judge information on fiber and care of the garment, cost of the outfit, how they selected accessories -- all consumer skills they will use throughout life.

Forty-five youth will be modeling their outfits in the public 4-H Fashion Revue Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the Fort Scott Community College Round Room. Four 4-H members will also be presenting talent numbers. The public is invited to attend.

A county fair would not be possible without the volunteers who help in planning, preparing for, and carrying out the numerous events at the fair. Many fair board members, 4-H leaders and parents, and other volunteers make it happen. Awards are generously provided by many individuals and businesses in the area. All are deeply appreciated!

I hope to see you at the fair this week!

K-State, County Extension Councils, Extension Districts, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperating. All educational programs and materials available without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

Ann Ludlum
FCS Agent, Southwind District
Editor's Note: Ann Ludlum is a K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences and 4-H extension agent assigned to Southwind District -- Fort Scott office. She may be reached at (620) 223-3720 or aludlum@ksu.edu.