SIDNEY — Thursday saw the end to an unusual and unique Shelby County Junior Fair. Despite there being limits on attendance and less participation, many kids showing still had an enjoyable experience.
The day kicked off with the breeding rabbits show in Arena I and Cloverbuds Share Day in the Beige Building. Families gathered to watch their loved ones show their 4-H projects and participants, both new and returning, got a chance to showcase their hard work.
“It got smashed by a weight, so I just rebuilt it,” eight-year-old Jonah Bensman said when asked why he chose to build a truck out of Legos for his Cloverbud project. “I got it out of the Lego junkyard.”
The junkyard is a large bucket in his home filled with Legos from different sets Jonah and his four brothers have collected over the years. While Jonah and his family usually stay at the fair the full week, this year, they were only able to attend two days of the junior fair. Even though this is Jonah’s last year participating in Cloverbuds, he plans to become a member of 4-H next year and start by showing calves or ducks.
“Calves are easy and ducks are easy to feed,” Jonah said.
For seven-year-old Lilly Luthman, this year’s junior fair was her first year participating in Cloverbuds. Her project was a look at the ocean, with sea creatures like a puffer fish, a seahorse and a mermaid molded out of Play-Doh. She also incorporated glitter, sea shells, sprinkles, paint and toothpicks into her project.
“I like swimming without a life jacket on,” Lilly said when asked why she chose the ocean as inspiration for her project. “I only like swimming without a life jacket. I can go underwater, do tricks in water and swim, because you can’t swim with a life jacket on. You can just float.”
The goals of the Cloverbuds program is to give children ages five to eight a glimpse at what 4-H projects are like and what they could do for their junior fair projects.
“It’s fun to interact with the younger kids and try to get them more involved and excited about what they’re going to do in the future,” Junior Fair Board Member Morgan Meyers said. “I think it was just important for us to show the younger kids, they’re still important and that they still deserve a chance to show off their projects that they put time into.”
Over in Arenas I and II, the breeding rabbits show, cavy show, rabbit showmanship and market rabbit show were held throughout the morning and afternoon.
“It’s a different kind of set-up and year. All the days are really different, and social distancing has really impacted how we show,” Madison Kipp, who showed rabbits throughout the day, said. “When we show rabbits, we normally help the judge by opening up our boxes. This year, the judge has to do it all on their own. We can’t see as well, because we’re so far back. But as long as it keeps us safe, we’re all good.”
Despite knowing that she would have to social distance while showing, Madison didn’t fully realize how spread out she and the other participants showing would be. It’s something she feels that she’ll remember from the fair in years to come, because it’s so different compared to her previous years showing at the fair. Despite the fact that showing was a little different this year, Madison still wanted to participate.
“I just love showing rabbits, and it’s always been one of my passions. I trusted the fair enough to take precautions to keep us safe, and everyone else safe with it. I trusted them enough to bring in all my animals,” Madison said.
Showing rabbits for the first time was Aubrey Swob, who felt the fair was different this year because not every animal was present on the fairgrounds every day. All the same, she’s found the experience to be a fun one.
“I’ve always wanted to show rabbits, because they’re so little and so cute,” Aubrey said. “I knew that I could do it and I knew that no matter what, it would be okay. I’m probably going to remember getting first place in my first ever rabbit show.”
Brycen Sherman, who has shown rabbits at the fair for three years, started off the market rabbit show winning first in class one lightweight rabbits, which came as a slight surprise to him.
“I didn’t think I would [win], because I just thought they were kind of squirmy rabbits, so I didn’t know if they would be good or not,” Brycen said. “I do it every year, and I wanted to follow through because, you never know, you might get first place. Even if I don’t, I’m still happy with what I get.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.