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Experience 4-H at the Franklin County Fair

July 30, 2008
By Richard Gast, Franklin County Cornell Cooperative Extension

The 2008 Franklin County Fair is about to get into full swing. As always, there will be a midway full of rides, games and attractions and, of course, there will be all sorts of concessions and commercial exhibits.

This year's extensive roster of scheduled events includes demolition derbies, truck and tractor pulls, freestyle motorcycle jumping, concerts, harness racing and a bull riding rodeo.

It is the many 4-H exhibits, presentations, competitions and workshops that are taking place throughout the week that interest me most, however. The Franklin County Fair has a long and rich tradition of supporting 4-H programs and 4-H youth. The Fair has long been a place where 4-H members have come together to showcase their skills, their craftsmanship, their showmanship and their animals.

This year's 4-H youth building activities include all sorts of fun and games. There will be demonstrations of basket making, blacksmithing and forging, spinning and felting, weaving, and soap making, as well as yarn doll crafting and rope making workshops, a stick-horse rodeo and readings from the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, "Farmer Boy." There will also be science and tech activities including an opportunity to try out global positioning system (GPS) receivers and learn about the technology behind

them and a presentation on butterflies and honeybees. 4-H club leaders and

members will be baking potatoes and making homemade ice cream and smoothies. And of course there will be the 4-H horse, poultry, goat, Holstein and beef shows. Oh, and I forgot to mention bingo with the poultry club, roping demonstrations with the beef club and a driving and draft horse show with the horse club.

You can stop by the 4-H barn anytime to have a look at the many 4-H club displays showcasing what club members have been up to this year.

While you're there, you can take a few minutes to just sit and relax while

the kids play in the corn corral (a giant sandbox filled with corn), use their imagination to build the ultimate Lego creations in the 4-H Lego building contest (Duplo building for the little ones), and make pot holders and beaded necklaces or bracelets. And while you're there, check out the baby chick incubator and watch chicks hatch.

You can sample some fresh maple cotton candy, too, made with locally produced real maple syrup. Doesn't that sound yummy! Take a bag or two

with you when you go. 4-H volunteers will be selling it at the 4-H fundraising booth, along with fresh popped popcorn, tasty sundaes, slush puppies, sandy candy and ice cold bottled water. What better way to support the 4-H clubs of Franklin County.

I am proud to be participating in workshops and hands-on activities that allow fairgoers to create and take home distinctively 4-H projects. I have been truly inspired by the effort, creativity and hard work of our 4-H club members as they readied their club exhibits; posters, crafts, scrapbooks, sewing, gardening and woodworking projects, and then submitted

them for judging. I take great pleasure in watching as they decorate and ready the stalls and pens that are temporarily home to their prized horses, cows, goats and sheep. Words cannot describe the love, pride and individual care given by these remarkable, exuberant boys and girls to their exceptional animals. They won't all go home with blue ribbons, but as far as I'm concerned, they are all winners.

The Fair is not actually a part of the 4-H program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Fair Board are not directly related. Still, both organizations have been cooperating for generations to assure continued success at one of the largest county fairs in the region.

Cornell Cooperative Extension promotes youth development through 4-H clubs and by offering opportunities to participate in the Franklin County and New York State fairs, statewide 4-H Youth Gatherings including the Albany Capital Days trip and events at Cornell University, National 4-H Conferences and much more. There are also shows, field trips and other 4-H experiences and activities, such as those available at Camp Overlook in Mountain View.

4-H is the youth education branch of the Cooperative Extension Service, a program of the United States Department of Agriculture. The 4-H Youth Development Program is an informal program designed to provide

opportunities for children to cultivate, practice and apply life skills as they are learned, and to create supportive learning environments that will enable youth and the adults they become to achieve and to reach their fullest potential.

The 4-H pledge: I pledge my head to clear thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, my health to better living; for my club, my community, my country, and my world. It isn't just words.

It's about decision making and knowledge, strong personal values, positive self-concept and concern for others. It's about workforce preparedness and a healthy lifestyle. The 4-H pledge is a promise of friendship and of friendships that will span generations. It's a pledge to learn new skills

and to discover abilities and talents that you can take with you and use throughout your lifetime, abilities and talents you never even knew you had. It's about shared experiences and about sharing your time and your talents with others. It's about friends and fun, learning and doing really cool things. Its about family and community responsibility, hard work and success, and developing attitudes and habits that will help us all meet the challenges of today and the future.

The 4-H pledge is about building a

world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.

Cornell Cooperative Extension encourages you to learn more about the 4-H program, as well as all of the other programs and services that we offer. It's easy to join 4-H. All you have to do is contact your local Cooperative Extension office.

Get involved. Become one of the many parents, volunteers, community

leaders and Extension staff sharing their time and talents with 4-H youth in your county.

You'll be glad you did.



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