From bugs to bread, 4-H has it all
Youngsters involved in 4-H are eagerly awaiting this year's Johnson County Fair as they complete their projects for competition.
Kassidy and Josh Forshey, who attend Mize Elementary School and are members of the Pioneer 4-H Club, are getting involved in as many fair projects as they can.
Their mother, Monica Forshey, is pleased with their 4-H experience and plans for her two younger children to join once they're old enough. She said the organization has not only taught her two oldest children new skills, but also about taking responsibility.
"People do think it's more for rural areas, but there's so many other activities, not just livestock," she said. "There's computers, sewing, electronics -- it's not just farm life."
This year's Johnson County Fair begins Saturday. Events will take place until Aug. 13. The parade begins on Gardner's Main Street at 11 a.m. Saturday and the carnival will open at 6 p.m. Tuesday through Aug. 11 and at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Open class entries are also available for non-4-H youth and adults.
After learning how to sew this year, Kassidy, 10, is sewing her own skirt as a 4-H project. She also learned how to knit.
"Knitting is the toughest," she said. "It's hard to not lose the stitches and keep it even."
Kassidy is also doing a demonstration on the parts of the sewing machine and entering clothing buymanship -- in which she will talk to judges about an article of clothing she has purchased and how to care for the garment. She is also entering the 4-H foods project, showing her sheep and has trained her dog, Copper, for the dog show.
Her brother Josh, 8, is entering in drawing, sheep and foods. He used a drawing book to teach himself how to draw with a pencil. This will be his first time competing at the fair.
"I wasn't that good at first," he said. "I had to learn how to hold the pencil. But I learned how to draw pretty fast, and I'm good at it now."
Josh said he was most nervous about the sheep competition.
"I'm not very used to talking to people, and my sheep is hard to work with," he said.
Last year, Kassidy won an achievement night medal for her sheep. She also got a grand reserve championship for her table setting of a western Kansas barbecue. In table setting, 4-H'ers learn how to properly set a table for a meal and use creativity for decorations. This year, Kassidy is entering her table setting of a lobster bake.
Bryce Zimmerman, 10, is also in the Pioneer 4-H Club and attends Starside Elementary School. This year, Bryce learned about the world of etymology and is entering his bug collection. He will have several mounted insects, including a display of the dragonfly.
"It took some practice and a lot of pins," he said.
Bryce said just about everyone helped him find interesting insects. A large Cottonwood borer, a black-and-white speckled beetle, was even found at the De Soto pool.
"Someone brought it to me in a Pringles can," he said.
Bryce said he's learned through his 4-H project that not all insects are harmful.
"A lot of them are good," he said. "Dragonflies eat mosquitoes, and they pollinate flowers. We think of butterflies as beneficial because they're pretty, but they help us, too."
Bryce is also entering swine, food and vegetables. This is his second year of participation in the fair. He's keeping his two pigs, Jimmy Dean and Sue, at the Zimmerman family barn.
"My mom gets us up really early to feed the pigs and walk them," he said. "We spray them with a hose, but not directly because it shocks them."
Bryce also will enter rocketry. He bought a special kit to make his rocket. He'll be judged on how high it reaches -- so far it's been 163 meters -- and the look of the rocket model.
For foods, Bryce is hoping to enter his great-grandparents' recipe for cookies and will also enter other baked goods. He is a member of the club choir, which will perform at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday on the midway stage at the fairgrounds.
This year's Pioneer 4-H Club has grown from 12 to 40 members since the previous year. With lots of new families, Bryce said the best part about 4-H is meeting new people.
"It helps you learn," he said. "Then you get to go to the fair and learn about new projects you might want to try next year."
For more information about the Johnson County Fair, visit www.jocokansasfair.com.