July 7, 2010


Junior Fair kicks off with full slate

FairJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Matt Sharpe of Foot Bridge Farm in Truxton spreads bedding for livestock Tuesday on the first day of the Cortland County Junior Fair, which runs through Saturday.

The annual Cortland County Junior Fair, featuring the talents of local youths, amusement rides and other attractions, began Tuesday and concludes Saturday with a 10 p.m. fireworks show.
The Junior Fair was first held in 1955 as an opportunity for children to show animals and qualify for competitions at the New York State Fair held in Geddes, outside Syracuse.
The fair has continued that role, but expanded to become a showplace for other youth talents and the agriculture industry of the county. Activities, such as digital photography demonstrations have been added in recent years.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County helps to operate the fair at the fairgrounds off Homer Avenue in Cortlandville.
While the majority of exhibitors belong to 4-H, as either a club member or independent, the fair is open to exhibits by any resident of the county between the ages of 5 and 18 as of Jan. 1 of the current year.
“It’s a great learning experience for them,” said Jo Ellen Roehrig, Cornell Cooperative Extension’s program educator for 4-H youth development.
One of the more significant changes this year was moving the talent show to 7 p.m. today. In past years it was held on a Saturday.
“There’s always some change, but nothing big,” Roehrig said.
Nearly 100 people are involved in putting on the fair, including the 20-member County of Cortland Agricultural Corporation, which coordinates all of the events, and staff of Cornell Cooperative Extension and 4-H.
“It’s a lot of people to make this work,” Roehrig said.
Junior Fair offers exhibitors the opportunity to grow in many ways.
Exhibiting helps youth learn to set goals and work toward them, develop standards, gain a sense of achievement, and communicate effectively about what they have done. The 4-H members have the chance to educate fairgoers on a variety of topics including 4-H and the importance of agriculture.
Junior Fair is a celebration of accomplishments, works-in-progress, and a good foundation to build on in the future. It highlights not only livestock, domestic, creative and agricultural achievements, but the youths who generate them.
The youths run the show. Junior supers provide invaluable assistance to the adult superintendents in a variety of ways and project areas. Judges’ assistants ease the load of evaluating the thousands of items that are submitted for judging over the course of the week. Teen Council members spend long hours managing the food booth.
These hands-on experiences help youths improve skills, learn the importance of following rules carefully, gain confidence in interacting with judges and speak with confidence about their project — all while handling the excitement and nerves that come from public presentation.
Exhibitors are provided opportunities to display what they have learned, enhance individual learning and skill development, receive recognition, learn and recognize standards of quality, learn and apply research-based subject matter and promote public awareness of the 4-H Youth Development program.
Members give public presentations, practice not moving a muscle as Mannequin Models, or showing off their sewing skills and poise at the Clothing Revue. They struggle with a feisty hog or determined lamb.
The 4-H organization is visible around the world, and has provided opportunities to millions of children over its hundred-plus years’ history of teaching youth to Learn by Doing.
Other special events this year will include an Ag Awareness Tent, Pig Races, a Dunking Booth, Motorcycle Show, Crossroads the Clown, Dan Chase “The Snake Man,” the annual Apple Pie Contest, Veggie Car Race, Pedal Tractor Contest, Midway specials today and Saturday, and bands.
While change is evident in several project areas, tradition still rules.


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