4-H creates new traditions, keeps some old

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

PROCTORVILLE — The barns may be a little bit more crowded this year at the Lawrence County Fair. But, according to organizers, that’s a good thing.

More than 1,000 members of the 28 4-H groups in the county will converge at the fairgrounds on State Route 7 in Proctorville July 8 through 15. Those numbers are the highest in recent years, according to Laura Jane Murphy, county extension agent, which means the youngsters will have more competition, for both barn space and prizes.

This year alone there are six new 4-H clubs, she said, as new groups were formed in Symmes Valley, Coal Grove, Kitts Hill and Ironton.

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“We’re not just cows and cooking,” Murphy said. “We have so many different things that the kids can get involved with. I like to say we have everything from A to Z.”

She continued, “We are known as a community of young people learning life, leadership and citizenship skills.”

Although originally known for its agricultural focus in the past, 4-H has shifted direction the past few years, no longer limiting it to farming.

Nowadays, fair-goers will see projects such as aerospace demonstrations, a family history treasure hunt, designing interiors and photography — all of which are a fair cry of the traditional gardening and livestock competitions.

There are still the traditional projects, as well, she said, which makes 4-H attractive to a broad spectrum of youngsters.

She said working on a 4-H project teaches kids to plan, organize and keep records, among other useful skills.

No matter what the project, Murphy said the weeklong fair is the climax of the entire 4-H year.

“This is really their time to shine,” Murphy said. “They’ve worked so hard at home and this gives them an opportunity to show off their work.”

Although many people hear about kids getting into trouble, Murphy said the fair proves that kids can have wholesome, educational fun.

“This is a very exciting time for everyone,” Murphy said.

She said the fair is “a big social event” for many of the kids who come together from all different school districts in the county.

Activities will begin for 4-Hers the opening day of the fair and will continue throughout the week. The 4-H and Future Farmers of America will have their small market sale, which includes rabbits, tobacco and chickens, at 7 p.m. the final night of the fair, July 14.

The fair will end with the large market sale, which includes lambs, goats, steers, at 10 a.m. July 15.