The community provided amazing support to our 4-H’ers at the La Plata County Fair this year. Let me share just some of what I saw.
More than 65 adults took an entire day off to judge 4-H projects – everything from cake decorating to food preservation to shooting sports to livestock. During the course of the year, 350 4-H’ers worked on projects with the help of adult leaders who shared a passion.
Later in the week, a fantastic community barbecue was offered with the help of 32 local businesses that generously contributed cash and goods. This year, more than 1,215 people were served a bounty of locally produced food, and our local 4-H program netted almost $19,000 to help fund youth leadership programs.
At a good-will competition, 1,210 pounds of meat was cooked by La Plata Electric Association, Chevron, BP and Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (with the help of Manna Soup Kitchen). To put that into perspective, that is equivalent to two entire steers. The meat was “melt in your mouth” fantastic. The first-place People’s Choice and the Judges’ Choice awards went to D&SNG, but the 2009 defending champion, Chevron, pulled in a close second.
This year, we added a new twist, asking three banks to compete for the best ranch beans. Just think of the sheer logistics of cooking 100 pounds of beans and 1,200 pounds of meat to serve to more than 1,200 people during the course of five hours. My hat goes off to these hardy, committed community leaders. Thank you. Then add the 600 parents, 4-H’ers and FFA students who worked from two hours to 10 hours each to serve hungry patrons.
As I walked around the fair, I saw 4-H’ers checking to see how they placed in their competitions or being interviewed by judges. The pride and smiles on those young faces was enough to warm my heart for at least a month. I saw youths, parents and community members helping each other take care of rabbits, poultry, steers, pigs, goats and lambs.
The week culminated Saturday evening when the grandstands were full of community members and families to watch 4-H’ers parade their prize-winning projects for the last time.
At the auction, some community members bought livestock for three times market value. Yes, the amazing generosity of community businesses was encouraging, especially when we remember how the economy’s downturn has hurt our community.
What I’ll remember most is the way 4-H’ers and adults interacted. They shared a common respect for each other – a respect that can affect each for years to come in so many unexpected ways. We can receive so much from each other when we open up. Thank you.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.