Did you know …
The Cowley County Fair is more than livestock. It’s more than the grandstand events. It’s more than the carnival. It’s more than cookies, cakes, quilts, vegetable exhibits and the midway. It’s even more than 4-H. While it is the culminating event of 4-H members’ year, where they demonstrate the skills and hard work they’ve put into their robotics/foods/horticulture/photography/clothing/etc. projects, the Cowley County Fair is so much more.
The Cowley County Fair is about preparation, learning, responsibility, determination and good old fashioned hard work. 4-H members choose projects in October and spend the year choosing what they are going to do. They set goals, learn new skills and manage their projects for a chance to be evaluated by knowledgeable judges at the fair. Families spend hundred and even thousands of hours working toward a goal. Volunteers dedicate their time and talents to providing hands-on learning opportunities for local youth. Project exhibits don’t come together overnight. Careful consideration and preparation is put into every detail of a project. It may take multiple attempts to get a project to turn out the right way. Members learn just as much from mistakes as they do from successes.
The Cowley County Fair isn’t just about 4-H livestock. Livestock get a lot of attention because they are fun, different and something most people don’t see every day. Many “city” people get a chance to see different types of livestock up close and personal at the fair. Not all 4-H members exhibit livestock projects, however. In fact, out of 2,000 exhibits pre-entered in the 4-H department, only 300 entries are livestock. 4-H members will exhibit more than 1,500 projects in Foods/Nutrition, Photography, Visual Arts, Robotics, Rocketry, Horticulture, Energy Management and more.
The Cowley County Fair isn’t just about the projects. As the ribbons fade and the trophies and plaques gather dust, most 4-H’ers will forget how they placed with their photo/hog/quilt/cake/robot at the 2019 Cowley County Fair. They won’t remember whether they got a purple, blue, red or white ribbon.
The Cowley County Fair is about the memories. While our kids are learning new skills, setting goals and learning responsibility, they are creating memories to last a lifetime. They’ll remember that time at the fair when they got in a shaving cream fight in the middle of the annual water fight after the sale or when they got to put a pie in the agent’s face. They’ll remember the mischief they got into with that new 4-H friend from another county community and how much fun they had at the carnival. They’ll remember how hard they worked all spring and summer with a steer they never got broken to lead and that sometimes seams in a dress have to be put in multiple times. 4-H’ers will gain friendships that will last a lifetime with that buddy they met cleaning out their bucket calf stall and spending time giving wheelbarrow rides. They’ll remember that time they spend their “vacation” at the Winfield Fairgrounds with their family and more than 400 of their closest friends.
The Cowley County Fair is about people. It’s the lifelong friendships we make. It’s the volunteers who put in countless hours throughout the year serving on the Cowley County Fair Board and as 4-H leaders helping “to make the best better.”
Kelsey Nordyke is the 4-H Youth Development Agent at K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.