When does the Cowley County Fair begin? I’ve been receiving this question for a couple of weeks. Most people will answer August 1. That is, in fact, the first day of the fair this year. The dates are Aug. 1-5.  For extension agents and some 4-H members, it began with the Dog Show June 22. For other 4-Hers, it begins with the 4-H Fashion Revue and Clothing judging July 23 or the 4-H Horse Show July 27.

In reality, the first day of the fair depends on who you ask. It varies whether you ask a 4-H family or a fair board member. If you ask a 4-H member, the first day of the fair depends on their projects .So, what is the correct answer, you ask? For Cowley County 4-H families, fair preparation happens all year. The 4-H year begins October 1 when members designate which club they want to be enrolled in and determine which projects they want to take. The projects a member chooses then determine their activities throughout the year and in which project areas they are eligible to exhibit at the fair.  

Most project work begins at the beginning of the 4-H program year. Members learn throughout the year about their project selections. 4-H Shooting Sports members learn shooting safety as early as the first Sunday in October. Members in other projects can begin studying trees, planning a garden, sewing, taking photos and building robots to exhibit in the fair as soon as the 4-H program year begins. Volunteers hold project meetings in various projects throughout the year so that members have hands-on educational experiences throughout the year. 

Livestock are purchased as early as November and as late as April depending on the specie. Beef members begin feeding and calculating rates of gain as early as March.  Sheep, Swine and Goats are tagged and identified in late April. Projects in the Visual Arts, Woodworking and Fiber Arts areas tend to take more time to complete, so many times, members will begin work early on their project in order to have it completed in time for the fair.

Work and planning for the next year begins immediately following the current year’s fair. The Cowley County Fair Board meets after the fair to discuss suggestions and updates to make the fair an enjoyable experience for fairgoers. 4-H families submit suggestions for review by the Cowley County 4-H Program Development Committee and Extension Council Executive Board soon after the fair. Preparations begin immediately.

4-H members enrolled in Dog, Clothing Construction, Clothing Buymanship and Horse exhibit their projects prior to July 27. The Cowley County 4-H Dog Show was held Saturday, June 22, at Black Creek Park in Winfield. Six members participated. 

4-H Fashion Revue judging, during which members are judged on modeling and fit of a garment they either purchased or constructed, will be 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 23, at Cowley College’s Brown Center. Members will also have the workmanship of their constructed items judged. 4-H’ers who model their projects  will then participate in the public Fashion Revue that evening at 7, also in the Brown Center. 

Horse project members dedicate Saturday, July 27, to the 4-H Horse Show. Members will bring  their horses to the Burden Arena competing at halter, riding and timed events. 

4-H members enjoy the opportunity to exhibit their projects in all areas. Visit us at the fair in Barn 4 and the livestock barns to learn more about the opportunities 4-H offers youth. Be sure to get some 4-H goodies from the 4-H Bake Sale after the Foods Judging on Friday, Aug. 1, or at the Food Auction in Barn 4 at 5:15 p.m. To learn more about youth opportunities in Cowley County, visit www.kansas4-h.org, or contact the Cowley County Extension Office at (620) 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

Kelsey Nordyke is the 4-H Youth Development Agent at K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at (620) 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

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