Nebraska State Fair Reflections
Every year I look forward to the Nebraska State Fair. As a youth, that was often our family vacation. We would participate in the State 4-H Weed, Tree, and Horticulture ID contests; present 4-H presentations; model our sewn garments; and view all the exhibits that made it to the fair in addition to getting ideas for the following year. State Fair was always a memorable family experience for me!
This year, I was so excited for the State Fair to begin! It was exciting seeing so many entries moving into the 4-H/FFA building to be judged and then seeing them displayed! Walking across the Fairgrounds in Grand Island, one can’t help but feel a sense of agriculture and pride in Nebraska’s agricultural roots. The facilities are absolutely amazing and our livestock numbers continue to climb.
The first weekend I enjoyed watching 4-H youth compete in the same plant ID contests when I was in 4-H…contests which provided me a love for plants and ability to identify them which helps me in my Extension career. These plant ID contests build life skills that these youth can use for numerous jobs but also as future home-owners. I was so proud of our area youth who placed so high in these contests-all the practicing paid off and they did very well. But in spite of ribbon placing, the most important fact is that they’re building life skills and learning!
The second weekend started off by catching the end of the Quilts of Valor presentation. The Quilts of Valor project is one in which Nebraska 4-Hers made and donated quilts to wounded soldiers. Over 40 quilts were made by Nebraska 4-Hers and it was touching seeing them displayed. It is neat seeing our youth develop life skills in quilting and giving back in such a special way!
I also enjoyed working with the swine show again and was also superintendent of the livestock premier exhibitor contest. We were anticipating 60 4-H and FFA youth competing in the 4 large animal species but around half of them actually competed due to so many shows at the same time. Premier Exhibitor allows youth to showcase their skills and knowledge in areas besides showing their animal. For instance, the majority of their score comes from an interview in which they share their knowledge of their livestock project and are asked questions about the livestock industry. They also take a written exam and participate in a skillathon in which they ID livestock breeds, feeds, equipment, and conduct other related activities. I was so proud of these youth for working so hard and participating in these events. Again, these are life skills that they are building-the essence of what 4-H and FFA programs are about.
While many long days and late nights were involved and much walking which was great exercise, the 2011 Nebraska State Fair was a great experience and huge hit with attendance numbers projected to be up 8%! Our 4-H and FFA youth overall did an excellent job representing 4-H, FFA, their families, their knowledge and skills learned, and Nebraska in general. Regardless of ribbon placing, they made us proud and while I’m glad this year’s Fair is over, I will be ready for next year’s Fair when it rolls around!