Ah, Fair Week. The time of year when the fairgrounds and Extension Office are overrun with volunteers, kids, vendors and the occasional casserole dish to share.
Yes, there will be a carnival here all weekend (and lots of fair-style food and drink). But you will also see the steers, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, 4-H projects, vegetables, fruit, handcrafted goods, photography and even a couple of cakes.
Whew ... and I haven't even mentioned all the vendors or the Demolition Derby, which seems to be challenging the Snowdown Follies as a ticket-purchasing craze.
You should also plan on attending the 4-H Barbecue from noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturday. As one of the biggest fundraisers for 4-H, it is an event that will leave you with sticky fingers and permanent smiles.
If you come to the La Plata County Fair, don't forget to bring your dancing shoes. On Thursday night, a new dance featuring the band Wild Country will start at 8:30. This is a new dance and will showcase the talents of Tyler Gummersol, a former 4-H member. We will also continue the tradition of the Fair Family Dance on Saturday night, which starts at 9 p.m., with High Rollers performing. The cost of the dances will be $3.
As new opportunities and events come to the fair, we will also be saying goodbye to others. Bob Salzer, who has been the 4-H Youth Development Agent for 29 years, is organizing and putting on his final fair.
For those of you who don't know, Salzer retired in November 2008. His retirement lasted about three weeks.
Because of hiring freezes and budget concerns, we were (and still are) unable to fill his position. So Salzer, who seems to always put the kids and the 4-H program ahead of himself, agreed to come back on a temporary basis to make sure that the program still ran smoothly - at least through the fair.
Well, now it is fair time, and Salzer will hopefully be able to enjoy the retirement that he so much deserves.
Salzer has taught, coached, led and helped thousands of kids through the 4-H program. He has helped them become leaders, teachers, business owners and proud members of our community.
There is a misconception out there that 4-H is all about raising livestock and horses. It's not. It's about raising kids to be responsible, proud, self-confident and courteous. It teaches them about community, history and stewardship.
I am challenged to think of a better program for our young people. The 4-H program is a model that should be (and is) followed when designing other programs that help our kids.
4-H is a national organization, but Salzer is our local success story. His tireless leadership and dedication will be sorely missed - by me, by the office, by the community and especially by the kids. So if you see his gray hair and smiling face walking around the fairgrounds this week, stop him and say "thank you." Shake his hand and give him a hug.
He deserves it.
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Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.