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Awarding ribbons at the county fair

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fairgoers will notice a difference in the way ribbon placings are awarded to the exhibits in the 4-H Building and in open class.

Open class exhibits are judged using the American system. Not all exhibits receive a ribbon. All entries within a class are compared and a blue, red, and white ribbon is awarded for first, second and third places. Purple ribbons are awarded for champion exhibits.

4-H exhibits are not judged against each other, but against a standard.

Using the Danish system, each exhibit is compared to the standard and every exhibit is awarded a ribbon, based on how well it meets the standard for that particular class.

A purple ribbon represents an outstanding exhibit. Blue exceeds minimum standards, but may have some room for improvement. Red meets minimum standards but may have visible signs of needed improvements. A white ribbon means the exhibit fails to meet the standard.

Awarding a ribbon is the conclusion of the judging process. In 4-H, conference judging is a form of evaluation used for several areas at the county fair, including clothing, foods, photography, and arts and crafts exhibits. The term conference judging refers to the opportunity for the 4-H member and judge to review together the item being evaluated.

The member and judge sit down across the table from each other and discuss the strong and weak points of the exhibit. They also discuss how the exhibit might be improved.

This procedure gives the 4-H member a greater sense of personal involvement with the judging process. The 4-H member has a better understanding of why the judge gave a particular color of ribbon to the exhibit. It's an important part of the 4-H "learn by doing" process and provides the member with information to improve on future exhibits.

Conference judging provides constructive feedback which helps the member gain additional knowledge and skills.

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.

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 a purple ribbon, but by being gracious in accepting a judge's decision to award a coveted trophy to a fellow exhibitor.

Working on 4-H projects teaches valuable life skills. Four-H members learn to set goals and to work to accomplish them. They learn to work with others and contribute to community activities. And youth and parents spend quality time together, problem solving, sharing ideas and learning to respect each other's opinions.

I encourage visitors to the fair to check out the 4-H Cloverbud Corner, an addition to this year's fair. The 4-H Cloverbud program is for 5 and 6-year-old youngsters who may participate in non-competitive, age-appropriate aspects of the county 4-H program.

Cloverbuds will be exhibiting an item they have made and will receive a participation ribbon.

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.