MT. VERNON – Participating in 4-H is not just a fun activity for 16-year-old Alicia Kabat of Scheller.
The program has also helped her come out of her shell and be more comfortable in social situations. Kabat has been a 4-H member for about eight years and has gained much from the experience.
“I just really blossomed myself. I was a really shy kid,” Kabat said. “(In 4-H), you learn how to deal with animals in a respectful way and you learn how to deal with people in a respectful way. … It's all-around a neat experience.”
Kabat is one of about 120 area kids who will compete in the upcoming Jefferson County 4-H Fair, which kicks off with a general projects show from 8:30 to 11 a.m. July 19 at Times Square Mall. The fair runs through July 27 and includes a wide variety of judged competitions and activities.
The general projects show is where 4-H members build displays or make presentations in several categories, including food, sewing and textiles, natural resources, visual and performing arts, woodworking, fashion, and more.
“Most of it is hands-on, actually making something,” said Carla Chesnek, the Jefferson County 4-H program coordinator. “The 4-H Fair is a culmination of all they have learned throughout the year.”
The fair will also have many livestock and animal shows, as well as a bike show, crops show, tractor driving contest, and livestock auction.
Carla's daughter, Taryn Chesnek, 14, of Woodlawn, will have a number of general projects in the show. Her categories include visual arts, sewing and textiles, cooking, and veterinary science. For the food category, Taryn has made two kinds of jam that will be featured in the competition. She will also take part in the goat and dairy shows.
“We learn responsibility and leadership and I like being with animals and being with my friends,” Taryn Chesnek said of the fair.
Reagan Edward Newell, 11, of Bonnie will show his dog, Milo, in an obedience competition and will also complete woodworking and art projects. He said 4-H is a very worthwhile activity.
“I think it really gives me something to do over the summer so you're not just sitting around,” Newell said.
This will be Blake Kiselewski's last year in 4-H. The 19-year-old will compete in the sheep, cattle and goat shows. He said he has especially enjoyed serving as a mentor for younger 4-H members, teaching them how to shear and show their sheep.
“I've learned a lot through the years and I hope I've been teaching the younger kids,” said Kiselewski, a Woodlawn resident. “This is my last Jefferson County Fair as a 4-H-er, but I'll still come back and help everybody.”
One of the more challenging competitions is the master showmanship contest where members have to show a cow, a pig, and a sheep, Carla Chesnek said.
“It really stretches their showmanship skills to do three different animals,” she said.
The horse shows are also quite difficult, particularly the trail class competition where members have to maneuver their horse through different obstacles, Chesnek said
All in all, though, the main objective of the 4-H Fair is for kids to have fun.
“Just coming out and having a good time and having the kids compete in the different project areas,” Chesnek said. “These kids get really attached to the animals.”
For more information or to obtain a complete fair schedule, contact the fair office at 242-0780.