No matter where you live in Indiana, you should be able to find a county fair within driving distance this week. It's one of the last big weeks for county fairs since the Indiana State Fair begins August 1. A handful of counties kept to their traditional schedules and actually overlap the state fair, making allowances so their members who show livestock can get to the state fair on time.
What goes behind the hundreds of 4-H projects you see at any county fair? Here's an inside look at Franklin County. Their fair, which concluded last week, has one of the larger 4-H crop shows of any county anywhere. Morgan County, coming up next week, also has a large crop show.
This year the department leaders involved junior leaders, often those with projects in that area, in Franklin County to assist during judging. It was their job to bring entries to the judges, help record the results and tack on records and comment sheets, all under the watchful eye of two or more adults supervising the department.
"It's a great way for these kids to learn," says Gary Kerr, a Franklin County farmer in charge of the county fair crops show. "Other counties have done it before, and we made a real effort to involve junior leaders this year. It makes it easier for us and the judges."
As it is Kerr says it takes two judges from 9 a.m. to at least noon to work through some 120 crops exhibits. Open judging allows the members to be there and both answer questions and hear the judge's comments. Almost every 4-H'er in Franklin County who exhibits soybeans knows what a nodule on the roots is and what it does for the plant. They have had judges over the past several years who emphasize this type of learning, and put priority on it instead of just the ribbon they award.