Three days of fun and learning for the family
By Clayton Smith
From July 25 through 27, local participants of 4-H showcased their knowledge and skills at the Putnam County 4-H Fair at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park. The event was sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, a partnership among federal, state, and local governments which extends Cornell University’s land-grant programs to citizens all across New York state.
The four H’s represent head, heart, hands, and health, and the organization prepared plenty of wholesome activities and entertainment for everyone.
Upon entering the fair, visitors were welcomed by live music at the Shady Grove Theater, where performers ranged from second graders to musicians who’ve been playing for decades. Continuing through the fairgrounds, guests were encouraged to stop in the Showcase Depot to view art submitted by children belonging to various 4-H clubs in the hopes of winning a blue ribbon.
The Livestock Pavilion housed cows, llamas, goats, and horses for children and parents to observe and pet. For kids looking to add some artistic flair to their day, the face painting tent extended the opportunity. For those looking to test their skill, the games tent provided ample fun. There was even a go-kart track to cater to the thrill seekers in the crowd.
Each day offered a unique variety of events. Some highlights on Friday included a magic show under the science and magic tent, a puppet show by the 4-H Puppeteer Players, and a dog show focusing on agility and obedience. On Saturday visitors had the chance to learn how to build a bird feeder using a soda bottle, attend the Country Living Auction, and enjoy a chicken barbecue dinner to end the day. Sunday opened up with a youth fishing contest, led to a livestock costume show, and ended with the Power of Youth awards.
Dena Altavilla, a 4-H youth and family development program director, helped oversee the event. She explained that the goal of the program is to guide younger people in developing leadership skills, and ultimately, life skills. The 4-H clubs have a year-long program which takes place after school or on weekends, and culminates in the July fair. Clubs are run by adult volunteers and cover a wide range of activities, from sewing to video production to community service.
“Last year there were 22 youth leaders who contributed 2,300 hours,” Altavilla said. Oftentimes, parents will become 4-H club leaders to provide a more formal way for their family to participate in an activity.
One local entity with a tent at the fair was the Kent Police Department. Deputy Michael Schmidt shared that the goal of the police department at the fair was to draw kids in, do a show-and-tell, and make it clear that the police are their friends. Schmidt found the 4-H Fair to be an ideal location for children to meet the local law enforcement.
“We’re under a tent, and we can reach a larger group of people at one time,” he said. The children enjoyed hanging out under the police tent, drawn in by stickers, coloring books, and bike safety brochures.
Ming, a local mother from Carmel who attended the fair with her daughter, found it to be beneficial to the community. She entered some of her daughter’s art projects in hopes of winning a blue ribbon, and she makes a point of getting to the fair every year.
“You can spend hours here. There are so many things to do,” she said. Her daughter, Penny, added that her favorite part is the dog obedience show. Ming recommends the fair to her friends and is happy to take her daughter because the children receive recognition for their projects.
To donate or learn how to get involved with the organization, visit 4-H.org.
Photos by C. Smith