“Hidden” 4-H projects at the county fair

There’s more to the county fair than livestock exhibits, woodwork and food. Don’t miss these little known 4-H projects that are also exhibited.

4-H Cloverbuds show off their projects at the county fair.

4-H Cloverbuds show off their projects at the county fair.

During summer, 4-Hers from around Michigan spend a week displaying their projects and skills at fairs. In Branch County, as in other counties, people know very well about the livestock shows that happen daily that are the results of hard work young people do to raise their show animals. Through the livestock project, they learn feeding, vet care and exhibition techniques. Other little known projects are exhibited as well.

One of these little known projects includes Michigan 4-H Cloverbuds who are 5-8 year olds and known as Branch Buds in Branch County. Branch Buds can participate in showing their small animals, still projects, public speaking, dog obedience and modeling. This is a special time for this age group to get acclimated to the exhibition process and prepare for their later years in 4-H. Cloverbuds learn from working on their projects and then talking about their projects with an evaluator during an interview process. Some youth participate in a public speaking event or modeling and learn at an early age to be at ease on stage in front of people. Older youth help Cloverbuds and serve as role models to follow.

Fairgoers in Branch County as well as other counties had the opportunity to raise a pig during the Commodity Marketing Program through Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Commodity Carnival. Participants would get a “pig” which was actually a plastic, pink egg and raise their pig by adding feed, health care, housing, wages and other tokens representative of actual items needed on the farm. The pig was then weighed and the participant learned how much would be needed to break even when the pig went to market. Participants then played “Plinko,” simulating the market experience and resulting in a monetary amount that the pig raised. Participants then discovered if they earned, lost or broke even on their pig.

Commodity Carnival

Youth participate at the Commodity Carnival.

4-H entrepreneurship was another project that was showcased at the Branch County Fair. Branch County 4-H members completed a four-week program to learn about starting a small business. Each member learned about selecting a project to sell, creating a business plan and a sales pitch, as well as a sales pitch or elevator speech for themselves. 4-H entrepreneurship participants sold their projects including dog treats, t-shirts and laundry soap at the fair.

4-H entrepreneurship project

4-H members at the Youth Entrepreneurship Program booth.

Another project highlighting work done by 4-H members was the 4-H landscaping project. Landscaping project members created their own garden, learning about soil types and plant selection during the program. Members cleared their plot, selected plants, watered and weeded and then met with an evaluator during the fair, presenting their garden and a notebook detailing their work.

Landscaping project Landscaping project

4-H members participated in several landscape projects.

These are just a few examples of the breadth of projects that may be exhibited at any local fair, not to mention the many others like computer-aided design, livestock judging and educational displays beyond the livestock exhibition, woodworking and foods. Make sure your next visit to a county fair includes finding those projects hidden under the surface!

Poster Girl on stage

Other projects 4-H members can participate in at the fair include educational displays and modeling their clothing projects on stage.

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