I’m writing this from the goat barn, my reading and relaxation spot for Fair Week. This year, I took on a new and fun challenge, serving as a 4-H Goat Leader. After the glorious chaos of the show, the girls had the rest of the week to enjoy the fair, spend time with friends, care for their animals, and make memories.
Two girls joined our group this year, my daughter and niece. We stayed in a friend’s pop-up right at the fair, a new experience for all of us. I loved how all the many cousins and friends showed up to play cards, hang out, and stay over. I loved how the local farmers drove their old tractors through the campground each night. For those who spend the week, I noticed an ebb and flow of activity. One barn might be frantically preparing for a show while another is relatively quiet with kids playing card games and raking and watering the aisles.
I’ll admit I’m one of those parents who doesn’t take competition too seriously at fair. While a bit of healthy competition builds character, I tried to teach my girls that fair week was about having fun and learning along the way. More important, the journey makes the 4-H kid.
Students must meet on a regular basis to prepare, a notebook (or portfolio) is required for all animal classes, those portfolios must be presented to a judge for evaluation (including an interview), and animals need to be checked on at least every two hours during the day to ensure they have adequate food, clean water, and clean bedding.
These kids learn valuable, lifelong skills: How to prepare for a large event, the art of the portfolio (By the way, you need to produce several of these in college), and how to survive an interview. Most fair entries include an interview with a judge. Part of their score includes interview performance, a skill which will serve them well as adults.
Are you looking for a program that builds character and provides fun for all? Look no farther than your local 4-H! Here’s to future fairs and watching our program grow! Thank you to Allison and Sarah for your goat support and thanks for reading!