SIDNEY — Several changes to the Shelby County Junior Fair will go into effect this year, bringing about improvements to the efficiency of the program.
According to Cassie Dietrich, 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator, a move to modernize and replace out-of-date processes is underway.
“We’ve cut back on printing things and are trying to do a lot of digital stuff,” she said.
In previous years, an entire packet was sent out to 4-H participants with Pre-Fair details, which used a large amount of paper and was overall wasteful. This year, a single letter was sent out, which notified members that the full Pre-Fair packet may be accessed online.
“This saves paper, saves money, and utilizes the website more,” Dietrich said.
The Junior Fair has also invested in two laptops for participants to use during the program throughout fair week to document the results of the showings.
“In past years, (the kids) hand wrote everything, then went back to the office that night and were staying there until 11 or midnight trying to get all the results typed up,” Dietrich said. “Now they can type them as the show goes on.”
“They can also check animals in on the laptops,” she continued. “This saves paper, which saves money.”
Another money-saving change has to do with the way awards are presented.
“What we found was we were duplicating a lot of ribbons,” Dietrich said. “Basically, we went through and cleaned up the rules and regulations book on how the awards were given, so one kid wasn’t getting three or four ribbons for the same project.
“We kind of ‘stair-stepped’ the process, (making) it a pyramid system,” she continued. “If they get ‘Best of Show,’ then they don’t also get ‘Best of Class.’”
Dietrich said this helps “stream-line” the award system, so that the program is not spending so much money on ribbons.
“We’re (also) going to have a ribbon return box at all of the shows, so kids who don’t want their ribbons, or who choose to, can donate them back,” she said. “A lot of kids have so many ribbons (and) really don’t need any more, so they can donate them back if they want. That’s a cost-saver.”
Another exciting change this year is the addition of a Cavy Showing.
Cavies, or Guinea Pigs, are animals that are easy to care for, and may attract more kids to 4-H and Junior Fair.
“The idea is that kids who live in city limits or in town and can’t have even a dog or cat could still bring an animal to the fair and experience that without the commitment of a goat, or a pig, or cow, because that’s just not attainable for some kids,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich, who is from Urbana, where she participated in 4-H, said Champaign County has had Cavy Showings for years.
“It’s an idea that I transplanted from my (home) county,” she said. “It’s popular over there, so I thought it would be something that would go over well here and draw interest from kids who are not necessarily in 4-H, so that when they go through the barns, they can say, ‘Hey, that’s something I could do.’”
As a way to raise money for the youth program, the 4-H Advisory Board will hold a silent auction during the fair.
Silent auctions allow participants to big on items by writing down their name and bid amount on a sheet of paper. The one with the highest bid at the end of the auction gets the item.
Bid items will include Cincinnati Reds tickets, a meat basket, a table, and home décor, among other things.
For more details about the silent auction, or for more information about Junior Fair and 4-H, contact Cassie Dietrich by calling 937-498-7243, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.