Member of 4-H Club Enjoyed Fair Competitions

A reader shares childhood memories of attending the county fair, where she enjoyed the carnival rides and participating in 4-H club activities, including cooking with new recipes.

| May/June 2014

  • Competing for bragging rights and winning ribbons, 4-H competitors at county fairs drew large crowds with their entries.
    Illustration by Brian Orr

When I was growing up, my friends and I looked forward to the county fair with mixed feelings. It took place the third week in August every year, which was the last week of summer before school started up again. We could hardly wait for the carnival rides, the shows, and the delicious food, and, of course, we couldn’t help but hope we might win a few ribbons in the 4-H building. However, in the back of our minds, we also knew school would be starting the following week, and that our hours of unending freedom would be over until next May.

I was a member of the 4-H club for 12 years, and I enjoyed all of the projects I completed. The most exciting 4-H year for me, though, was my first year, when I took part in a cooking competition.

I tried the recipes and completed the project book with help from my mother. Then, bright and early on the morning of the first day of the fair, I completed the meal I would display with my project book in the 4-H building: a hamburger, along with peeled and cut carrot sticks — and this was way back in the day before you could buy baby carrots at the grocery store, so it meant physical labor. Then I placed a white napkin inside a drinking glass to make it look like a glass of ice-cold milk, and I positioned it next to the plate of food.

When the judging was over, we went to the 4-H building to see if we had won. We walked over to where the cooking competition was set up, and my project was gone. It had been moved to the section reserved for the grand champion projects.

I still have that ribbon. In fact, I have all the ribbons I’ve won over the years, both through 4-H as well as other items I’ve entered in fairs.

I still enjoy going to the county fair, though I don’t ride the rides anymore. The 4-H projects have changed over the years, but it still brings back many childhood memories as I walk through the various buildings and run into old friends.

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