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4-H’ers showcase projects at Oklahoma State Fair

STILLWATER, Okla. – The iconic replica of the St. Louis Arch may be gone at the Oklahoma State Fair, but fairgoers still can count on one thing. Oklahoma 4-H’ers are making a big showing this year with 4,100 project exhibits representing 45 counties on display in the Oklahoma Expo Hall.

Craig McKinley, retired OSU department head, and John Holman, Murray County Extension educator, calculate scores after judging 4-H exhibits.

 

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Oklahoma 4-H’ers have entered 4,100 exhibits in this year’s Oklahoma State Fair.

Jim Rhodes, Northwest District 4-H program specialist for Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension, said he is excited about the new space in which the 4-H exhibits are being displayed this year.

“We’re in the space that formerly was known as the Made in Oklahoma Building. Although we’d been in our previous location for about 14 years, this new spot centralizes our exhibits with Agtropolis and the FFA exhibits,” said Rhodes, who also serves as fair co-superintendent for the 4-H program. “The exhibits on display represent the best of the best when it comes to 4-H project work. We had 56 judges on hand to judge the entries before the fair opened.”

To be able to compete at the state level, 4-H’ers first submit their entries at the county level. Those projects placing first then go on to compete at the Oklahoma State Fair. Projects are as varied as the interests of 4-H’ers. Fairgoers will be able to see everything from posters on nutrition and woodworking projects to homegrown vegetables and technology projects.

Natalie Haggard, a member of the Kremlin Hillsdale 4-H Club in Garfield County, had nine of her 12 county fair entries make it to the state level.

“The majority of my fair entries are in my main project area of fabrics and fashion. I made a 1950s model dress, a quilted table runner and a quilt I machine pieced and quilted,” Haggard said. “I also entered some acrylic artwork. I like making entries for the fair because it gives me another outlet to use the skills I learned in 4-H.”

She said she learned to sew from her mom and grandmother and has been using those skills for six years to make entries for the fair. Not only has she learned a skill she can use throughout her life, she also has learned the value of time management.

“The fair comes up a lot quicker than you think, so I have to manage my time in order to get all of my projects done,” she said. “Participating in the fair also has helped me learn how to be a good sport and take my losses gracefully.”

Oklahoma County 4-H’er Aleiha Mitchell said she thinks it’s important for club members to participate in the fair.

“This is a time when we can showcase what we’ve learned throughout the year,” said Mitchell, who is a member of the Harrah 4-H Club. “It also gives us a chance to see other people’s creations and get ideas from other club members. Plus, it’s fun to meet the people who made the exhibits.”

Danielle Venable, OSU Cooperative Extension 4-H educator in Oklahoma County, said putting exhibits in the fair is a valuable learning experience for 4-H’ers.

“We have kids who do work in their main project areas, but we always have some venture out into other projects. We’re always encouraging them to think outside of the box,” Venable said. “For example, a 4-H’er has an entomology project and the fair exhibits include insect collections, photography of insects, a flier about an entomology workshop, a PowerPoint presentation or poster and arts and crafts. While this 4-H’er focuses on entomology, it can result in various fair entries.”

In addition to ribbons or money 4-H’ers may win, Venable said the knowledge they gain is invaluable.

“They learn so much because some of their projects require research before they can complete it,” she said. “They’re learning things they never knew before in order to complete their entries. There’s always that chance this new knowledge could spark an interest for them. Also, when people visit the fair and look at all the 4-H exhibits, I hope they think the person who made that crocheted hat has the ability to create her own clothes and may go on to become the next new fashion designer. However, it’s not all about what the public sees. It’s about how much the 4-H’er has learned and grown while completing these fair projects.”

Something Jessica Nickels said she wishes the public would understand is just how much work club members put into their projects.

“Some of these projects take so much time and effort,” said Nickels, who is the 4-H educator in Garfield County. “Our projects are so varied and I’m seeing more and more exhibits geared toward science. We have everything from traditional sewing and gardening projects to things like robotics and geology, and even a project on building a trebuchet.”

So, not only is the fair a great time to explore the midway and a plethora of fried foods on a stick, it’s also an opportunity for the public to see what today’s youth are learning in 4-H, which is the world’s largest youth organization.

“While everyone enjoys all the rides, the Indian tacos and the booths selling all kinds of gadgets you can’t live without, I encourage everyone to take time to stop by the Oklahoma Expo Hall and take a look around this year,” Rhodes said. “What you’ll see is a great example of what Oklahoma 4-H’ers are doing and what a positive impact they are having in their communities. And while you’re here, enroll your kids in 4-H and next year they might just have an entry in the Oklahoma Expo Hall.”

The Oklahoma State Fair will run through Sept. 24. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

 

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Trisha Gedon
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
Oklahoma State University
136 Agriculture North
Stillwater, OK  74078
405-744-3625 (phone)
405-744-5739 (fax)

trisha.gedon@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000

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