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4-H Fair nears, officials hope to connect community

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@h-ponline.com

The Huntington County 4-H fair is right around the corner, providing the community with traditions of leadership, education, service and connection.

Purdue Extension Educator and 4-H Youth Developer Rae Ann O’Neill said the fair is a place she will often see people run into each other at the fair and reconnect. She adds that this is one of the most important parts of fair week for those in the community of Huntington.

“I know people that grew up here but they come back for the fair, so they can make those connections with friends,” she said. “I think the most important part of it is people connecting with people. I think that’s so important in this day in age where we rely on technology to make those connections, it’s nice to be able to make some face-to-face connections and really get to visit with people and have some fun.”

As for why so many kids across the county participate every year, O’Neill said she thinks it’s a great way for kids to figure out what they’re interested in and how to pursue it.

“I think one of the big draws to 4-H is the kids get to pick,” she said. “It’s all about things that they’re interested in. With 4-H we have such a variety.”

O’Neill went on to explain that if a kid is interested in horses but doesn’t have a horse, they can still do a horse project and exhibit a poster explaining what they learned; or if a kid enjoys learning about weather at school, there’s a weather project they can work on and figure out how to track weather; or if a kid is interested in HGTV and remodeling shows, kids can even do some remodeling in their homes or create a design board just like real designers do – the list goes on.

Aside from learning more about their interests, a large part of 4-H actually takes place behind the scenes year-round.

“Throughout the year where they’re meeting with clubs, they’re learning about leadership, they’re learning about community service, they’re learning about how to conduct a meeting, how to get something accomplished as a group,” O’Neill said. “So that’s the other aspect of 4-H that goes on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t realize it happens. Which is a very important part of our program.”

Some of the fair favorites will be back this year as well. O’Neill said since karaoke night was a success last year, it will be back for another round this year. She also said some of the other crowd favorites include fair food, the livestock auction, 4-H spirit night and more.

Aside from new speakers for Ladies Day and activities for Youth Day, the general fair schedule is the same as years in the past. O’Neill did say she has been told that the famous milkshake booth could be in a new location.

“People shouldn’t panic if it’s not where it used to be, it’s still there,” she said. “Last I heard they were moving it because they got a bigger booth and needed a bigger spot.”

Although the fair exhibits don’t open at the fairgrounds until July 21, according to the Purdue Extension website, the first official event – the dog show – will begin on July 7 at the First Federal Savings Bank community building. This event is followed by the tractor driving contest on July 8, and the 4-H parade and royalty contest on July 13.