As county fairs across the state of Kansas come to an end, I always look back at all of the years that I was in 4-H and the countless hours that I spent preparing to take my exhibits to the county fair. Growing up in a small town the county fair is a popular event. From livestock shows, to amazing concession stand food, to pig wrestling, the Pawnee County Fair in Larned is a fun event. Growing up in 4-H I have learned many different character qualities, one of which is volunteering. Without the volunteers of others the many events that go on during the fair would not be possible. After spending 13 years participating in the fair I knew it would be almost impossible to not be helping at the fair. I was able to help with many events leading up to the fair and during the fair.
I spent well over 5 hours helping 4 young 4-Hers get their sheep ready for the fair. The first person I helped get ready was Konner, he lives in Edwards County and his county fair was the week before ours. We spent time shearing and giving answers to questions that he and his family had before taking his 2 lambs into their fair. Ava was a first year sheep showman who wanted to show her own lamb this year so that she could show it in the Shepherd’s lead show and not have to borrow another 4-Hers’s lamb. Together I taught her how to show her 2 lambs and taught her how to shear her lambs for the show. Kaysen, a third year showman, asked for help in learning how to shear his lambs with his new shears that he purchased. We had a very memorial night when a storm moved in and we found ourselves shearing lambs in the middle of a hail storm! Grayson, a 5 year old, wanted to show a lamb in the open sheep show so we spent 4 Sunday afternoons learning how to walk a ewe lamb on a halter and holding his lamb.
Before the county fair starts, all of the sheep, goat, and hog panels had to be put up. I gladly offered to help put them up because I did not think that it should only be one person’s job to put up over 50 pens. The 4 hours flew by because we stayed busy with spraying the concrete slab clean that the pens would be placed on, setting up the pens, and then disinfecting all of the pens. During the fair I had the opportunity to emcee the 4-H and open goat show. I also judged the herdsmanship competition one night where the 4-H clubs compete against each other to have the cleanest animal pens to win a prize at the end of the day. This is done to help keep the fairgrounds as clean as possible and helps the public view all of the livestock exhibits and not have to walk through dirty aisles. My favorite opportunity that I had was getting to judge the team fitting and showing. 4-Hers are divided into teams to get a bucket calf “show ready” in just 15 minutes. There is no help allowed by parents and the older 4-Hers have to teach the younger ones how to make the calf ready. Kids throughout the community participate, some as young as 3! It is a very special sight, seeing how the older 4-Hers use their leadership skills that they have learned from being in 4-H to help teach the younger generations.
Although going back to the county fair and not having any exhibits was very different, I am glad that I have grown up in a community where 4-H is prominent and taught me all about volunteering and leadership.