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KSRE Tuesday Letter

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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

July 6, 2021

Have a Positive County Fair Experience

Submitted by Aliesa Woods, Carla Nemecek, Mary Sullivan

A county fair is a wonderful way to bring our communities together and highlight the skills and talents of local 4-H youth. No ribbon or award will last as long as the things young people learn. The County Fair is just one part of the learning process. When fun is the focus, young people learn and grow. Each young person is a winner for trying, completing their project and submitting it for evaluation. Encouragement from one adult can make a big difference in a child’s life. As the Extension professional, youth and their families are watching you and learning from your words and example.

Good sportsmanship is key to a successful county fair. Youth learn to accept a judge's critique and learn from another’s viewpoint. No one is to blame when a project doesn’t come together like we had expected - but often times much is learned from the project that receives more criticism. While some of our 4-H members will have success with their projects, others may be disappointed which could result in challenges for the local unit staff. The emotions that result from disappointment can also be an opportunity for you to express empathy and help exhibitors set their sights on projects for the 2022 county fair.

It is an exciting privilege to host a community event such as a county fair that is successful! You have already put months of planning, coordination and hard work into the fair – just don’t forget the importance of advertising and marketing the entire local K-State Research and Extension Office and all extension program areas at the fair.

During the fair, try to take the pulse of participants. You don’t have to survey everyone; a sample will do. It is important to determine if the event was successful, what could be done differently, and what the next steps should be. Many agents carry their fair book and rules with them throughout the fair and this is a great place to add notes and ideas on how to do things differently next time and to document what was successful. Conversations under the shade tree are often a great way to connect with families on a personal level.

Celebrate the event with lots of thanks to participants and volunteers. It takes everyone’s best efforts to come together and help one another, for the success of the fair. Volunteers who are told how much they are appreciated for their contributions, are more likely to be there in the years to come.

Wishing all of you a happy, fun filled, positive fair experience with gratitude for this opportunity to serve our youth and our communities.

Your Regional Directors,

Carla Nemecek-Eastern Region
Aliesa Woods-Central Region
Mary Sullivan-Western Region