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4-H, Purdue Extension celebrate origin of American county fair

Harrison County 4-H and Purdue Extension celebrated the origins of the American county fair this year with Purdue education stations at the Harrison County Fair. The roots of the county fair stem from agricultural education.

In the early 19th century, communities would gather to share knowledge and demonstrations of modern agricultural techniques. Sheep shearing or new planting methods were important to share throughout growing communities that relied on efficiency and good yields. Farmers would showcase their livestock and compete for local acclaim. New technologies, such as airplanes and tractors, were often seen by many for the first time at these events. Entertainment, food and vendors were added and, thus, this great tradition was born.

4-H grew out of the need to teach young people and their families agricultural education, and partnering with agricultural fairs to allow youth to share their mastery of these crafts was a natural fit. 4-H carries on that tradition today, by preparing young people in all walks of life the skills they need for the future and maintains its strong agricultural traditions.

Harrison County 4-H volunteers, youth members and volunteers from other organizations combined efforts this year to present a week-long education station under the grandstands. Each evening, a different topic was highlighted, from soil science to poultry embryology.

The Harrison County poultry club shared the life cycle of chickens with animal ambassadors “KiKi” the Cochin and “Sarai” the Wyandotte. Summer intern Ariel Camm shared how animal byproducts are part of daily life, and the 4-H Dairy Barn Gang brought a dairy calf and taught the public how to make butter.

4-H Horse and Pony members shared a leather craft with miniature horses, Peanut, Jelly and Pickles.

A new partnership for 2021 featured the Harness Horse Youth Foundation; 11 youth attended the Thursday morning session, and Ellen Taylor from the HHYF presented. Youth learned about careers in the harness horse industry, parts of the harness and watched the morning works before the afternoon races. The youth also received educational gifts from the HHYF and the Harrison County Agricultural Society. Youth were also invited to watch the races and observe the horses in action.

The Harness Horse Youth Foundation will return to Harrison County in the fall to present harness racing at our Harrison County Ag Days for all Harrison County third graders.

Rebecca Wilkins M.S., CYC-P, Purdue Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development