Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Guest comment

County fair special time

July 26, 2007

Growing up as a 4-H'er, the one part of the summer that I looked forward to the most was the county fair. Maybe this was because I had worked all summer on my 4-H projects and couldn't wait to compete them. Maybe it was because I wanted to show off all of my hard work or maybe it was because I got to hang out with all of my friends for an entire week. Regardless of the reason, as an adult and as a 4-H youth development extension agent, I still get excited when the county fair rolls around.

This year, the Johnson County Fair will be Aug. 6 though Aug. 11 at the fair grounds in Gardner. The county fair is a fun time for 4-H youth, parents, their families and everyone from Johnson County and surrounding counties. It's a time when 4-H members from all 22 local clubs display their projects and show fair visitors what members are capable of accomplishing. Whether it's a rocket they constructed or a steer they raised, 4-H kids have fun with a purpose. Parents work closely with their children throughout the year, but particularly during fair week. 4-H kids "learn by doing" and, for most members, fair week is the culmination of yearlong projects.

Youth and parents scramble to make sure last minute details are seen to; sheep are washed and shorn to perfection, last minute paint is applied to projects, flowers and vegetables are arranged just so. Kids and parents work together, striving to capture the eyes of the judges and to stand out amongst the competition. Many life lessons are learned during fair week -- showmanship, sportsmanship, grace under pressure. The sense of accomplishment kids feel when they are awarded a ribbon is a lesson kids remember long into adulthood.

By attending the fair, you can witness all this in action.

The Johnson County fair would not be possible without people coming and experiencing its sights and sounds. I know from experience that 4-H youth appreciate everyone who visits the fair and expresses interest in their projects. The kids want others to see what 4-H is all about, as well as the hard work that they have put in throughout the year.

The Johnson County fair also is a time we appreciate our community volunteers. These individuals help check exhibits into the fair grounds 4-H Green Building, assist with the 4-H food stand, and spend countless hours at the fair (and throughout the year) mentoring kids in the heat and humidity. They do so out of the pure kindness and generosity of their heart. And, because they believe in helping kids by teaching them the skills they need to succeed in life.

Johnson County 4-H always is looking for impassioned volunteers. If you are interested in sharing your experience, your skills, knowledge or time at the county fair, or throughout the year, or if someone you know is interested in joining 4-H, please contact me at the extension office at (913) 715-7000. And come on out and see us at the fair. We'll be the ones in the lime green t-shirts showing our dogs in the show ring, grooming our rabbits, selling hot dogs, and making memories and having the time of our lives.

Sarah L. Laib is one of two agents in the Johnson County extension 4-H/youth development program.

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