4-H to have big presence at fair | News, Sports, Jobs

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FAIRMONT– The Martin County Fair kicks off next week and while the fair might mean different things to different people– some may think of the food, and others, the rides– there’s no doubt that agriculture is a big part of it.

This year, 300 4-H youth across seven different community clubs throughout the county will have a wide variety of exhibits on display.

“This is a chance for all of the exhibitors to show off the learning and work that they’ve done all summer with their animals and their exhibits,” said Hannah Neil, extension educator, 4-H youth development.

In the Bank Midwest building, a multitude of 4-H projects will be on display, including fine arts and crafts, clothing, quilting, flower gardening, foods and nutrition, photography, small engines, wood shop and more.

Of course the various livestock barns will be filled with species that people can walk by and see and the animals can also be seen during the many livestock shows. There will be animal exhibits in beef, dairy, goats, horses, meat goats, poultry, rabbits, sheep and swine.

After showing, ribbons will be given out by judges. For those who have wondered how the ranking goes, Neil explained that when everyone first gets judged, they’ll receive a blue, red or white ribbon, with blue being the best. The judge also has the option to award a purple ribbon, which shows the the animal or project excels.

“There’s also a grand and reserve champion. The purple would be in between the reserve and the blue,” Neil explained.

As for who judges, judges can be found via a Minnesota 4-H data bank, though Neil said they try to keep most judges local. Judges are lined up well ahead of time, with livestock judges on board around January and other judges by February.

“It’s a lot of emailing and phone-calling,” Neil said.

There are judges for the nine different species, 13 interview judges and 15 judges for general projects. All of the judges are qualified and experienced.

“The livestock judges, they’re either in the industry they’re judging for or have participated on a judging team at the collegiate level so they understand what they’re looking for. It’s pretty high stakes to get that state fair trip,” Neil said.

Of the 300 youth with exhibits at the Martin County Fair, roughly 50 will take livestock projects and another 20 will take general projects to the Minnesota State Fair.

“It’s always a fun competition. The kids put in a lot of work to get them to present to the best of their ability and a lot come in with the hope of going to the state fair,” Neil said.

The youngest 4-Hers, clover buds, youth in grades K-2, are eligible to enter projects at the Martin County Fair whether it be livestock or other.

“They show just for participation. There’s no judging, but they’ll be asked questions and they’ll get a rainbow participation ribbon,” Neil said.

Those through third grade can compete for a ribbon but exhibitors have to have gone through sixth grade in order to go to the state fair, which is true across the state of Minnesota.

Each individual can only bring one specie of animal to the state fair so that they can get as many youth as possible across the state to experience the state fair. However, a youth can bring an animal and general project to the state fair.

Neil said it’s fairly common for exhibitors to have at most, 15 to 20 exhibits at the Martin County Fair.

While it doesn’t cost to be in 4-H and it doesn’t cost to show at the Martin County Fair, there are of course costs associated with the projects and with the livestock. There is also a fee to show in the state fair for those who make it.

“Martin County is very lucky that we are able to pay for the first program fee (of $65) for a youth’s first state fair trip,” Neil said.

Those who go out to the Martin County Fair this year will have a hard time missing anything that has to do with 4-H. Neil noted that 4-H has a presence in nearly every single building at the Martin County Fair with the exception of three food booths.

New this year, she said that individuals that exhibited a presentation or performed an art at 4-H’s annual presentation day earlier this week will be able to demonstrate or perform for the public on Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Band Midwest building.

She also encourages people to stop by and watch one of the many livestock shows. The schedule can be found on the fair’s website at mnotherbigfair.com under the livestock schedule tab.

“Working with these animals and on these projects teaches the kids so many life skills like responsibility and respect for the animal’s boundaries.” Neil said. “We’re excited to have the youth come show of their work and exhibit the projects they’ve worked so hard on.”

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