Local News

4-H Kids Return to the Fairgrounds

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Fairgrounds have been buzzing with 4-H activity.  Project turn-ins and judging have been going on all week.


The pandemic drove last year’s 4-H activities online, which was a bummer.  Gayle O’Connor is a La Porte County 4-H Educator.  She’s thrilled to be back to normal. "It's been exciting to see everyone in person again," she said. "The excitement on their faces has been fun to see."


O'Connor said last year's virtual 4-H was better than nothing, but was no substitute for the normal in-person experience. "Last year's online event was the worst we ever want to have it," she said, "because it still provided an opportunity for projects, but, boy, it still does not fulfill the full experience of being live in front of a judge, having your project on exhibit for everyone to see."


Usually, about 1400 kids participate in 4-H in LaPorte County.  O’Connor estimates there are 20-30% fewer kids this year.  One reason is that the status of in-person exhibiting was still up in the air until May.


The up-side, says O’Connor is that many kids seem to have used the extra time in quarantine to work on their projects. "New project ideas!  There has been a lot of time for creative thinking over the pandemic," she said, "because I have seen some new projects I have never seen before."


Jill Wozniak is a volunteer helping set up exhibits this week. Sitting in on photography judging, she noticed a greater diversity in projects, likely because kids have spent more time working on them. "With photography, you are to take pictures since last fair," she said, "so some of them, having more time at home, I think we saw more fall and winter pictures going in. We had kids home from school, people thinking about it, and getting ready."


Exhibits are on display in two building at the fairgrounds. O'Connor said the Small Projects Building has been reorganized. A new area called Demonstration Station has hands-on activities for kids to do. And don’t forget the livestock. Be sure to check out all the kids’ (and volunteers') hard work when you go out there next week.

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