Submitted by: Carla Nemecek, Southwind District Director & Agent
My 20th county fair is officially in the books. I spent the first seven years in Haskell County, Kan., and have been in Allen County since 2005. When the Southwind District formed in 2010, I was given the privilege of working with two more counties, Neosho and Bourbon. As one of your District Extension Agents, I can tell you that it is truly a relief to be on the backside of the county fair and it gives me an opportunity to reflect and think about those folks who help make our 4-H program successful.
I don’t want to bore you with the details of planning and getting ready for the county fair, but rather take an opportunity to thank those key individuals who take the time to volunteer and make our county fairs successful. Each of the counties in the Southwind District have specific key people who make sure our kids are getting an education in their projects and having fun at the same time. In Neosho County, the livestock leaders conducted project meetings that drew in youth to the fairgrounds, teaching them about livestock husbandry and showmanship to prepare them for the upcoming contests. I admire the time and dedication these leaders give to the kids and I know it takes away from an evening or a weekend at home with family, yet they give to our 4-H program time and again. In Bourbon County, members of the fair board built a new covered pavilion and dedicated it to a long-time Friend of 4-H. The pavilion was used for folks to gather during the fair and the 4-H dance was held there, too. This is an addition to the fairgrounds that will be a valuable resource for many years. In Allen County, not only did we try a completely new fair schedule, but we were also given financial support from County Commissioners to repair and rebuild structures on the fairgrounds that will be used for generations to come. Phase one of this five-year project saw a much needed new roof on the sheep and goat barn. I also have to say thank you to the Livestock Boosters who make sure that all of our 4-H youth who are members in good standing receive additional premiums for their livestock projects.
The Southwind District also had the good fortune to hire summer interns in each county. Dacey worked in Fort Scott and hosted a barn quilt workshop which resulted in many barn quilts being displayed in each county. Kendle worked in Erie and organized a much needed photography clinic to teach youth how to take better photos for personal and 4-H use. In Iola, we worked with Zoey who prepared a tie blanket workshop and then donated those blankets to Hope Unlimited.
On a personal note, I also want to thank my family and close friends who help me get through the fair season. Without their support through all hours of the day, there is no way to mark off every item on the daily “to do” list. I have an amazing job, but it is really a community of people who make it fun. Thank you all!!