TOLCHESTER — After a year without an in-person fair, 4-H families and those in attendance of the Kent County Ag Center were glad to be back Thursday, July 15 through Saturday, July 17.
The Kent County Fair gives local 4-H’ers the opportunity to exhibit the projects they have been working on throughout the year.
“We’re so thankful to finally have a fair in 2021, since we didn’t get to have one in 2020,” President of the Ag Board Josh Philips said during the opening ceremony on Thursday.
Last year, 4-H’ers participated in an online version of the fair using pictures of their projects, Beth Hill, who manages the local 4-H program through the University of Maryland Extension, said during an interview on July 11.
Speaking Friday afternoon after having given a presentation to visiting campers who came out to the fairgrounds with Kent County Parks and Recreation, Hill said the 4-H’ers are very happy to be back in person at the fair this year.
Alexandra and Paige Miller, 16- and 14-year-old cousins in the Junior Dairy Associates 4-H Club, have been showing dairy cows since they were 8.
Speaking with them on Saturday after the dairy cattle show, they said their fair experience was “good” and they were surprised by the number of people in attendance.
Carleigh Black, an 11-year-old intermediate 4-H’er in the Kent Clover Calf Club, is a fifth generation 4-H’er. Her mom, grandmother and her great-grandparents, and more were all in 4-H.
“It feels ... memorable,” Black said on Saturday of being from a long line of 4-H’ers. “I imagine part of my family having grand champions and stuff like that.”
This year, Black showed beef steers, vegetables, photography and more during the fair.
“It feels a lot better (to be in person) because where I live there’s like no internet whatsoever, so here at least I get to experience what last year would have been like,” Black said of the move back to an in-person fair this year.
In addition, locals and visitors appeared excited to head out to the fairgrounds again, as evidence by the record attendance Hill said was logged for the opening night Thursday.
“We had about 800 paid people come through the gate, which is the most in quite a long time,” Hill said. “Entries are down but we kind of expected that. And as people start getting back in the swing of things, we expect to be in full force next year.”
Three activities that did not make it on to this year’s lineup out of public health precautions — the greased pig and pie-eating contests and face-painting — are expected to return in 2022.
“This is a really, really good first start to coming back. We’re so happy we could do it with relatively few restrictions,” Hill said.
Hill said 4-H participation overall is in “sort of an ebb right now,” but there are a lot of very young members coming in from legacy families.
“So we’re really excited about the younger side of 4-H coming up in the next few years,” Hill said.
There are seven active 4-H clubs in Kent County, each of which were introduced during the opening ceremony.
Bits and Bridles is a horse club meant to “help young riders go farther in their equestrian abilities,” President Casey Turner said.
Youth age 5-18 are welcome to join Bits and Bridles, which meets on the third Wednesday of each month.
Fuzzy Tails and Shiny Scales is open for rabbits and other small animals. Youth age 5-18 are welcome to join. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in Galena.
Junior Dairy Associates teaches youth age 5-18 about dairy cattle and goats. They meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Kennedyville United Methodist Church.
Kent Clover Calf is the largest Kent 4-H club. It is also the oldest continuous 4-H club in Maryland and will celebrate 100 years of continuous operation next year.
Kent Clover Calf is also the only general interest club, with animals, indoor exhibits, and photography.
They meet on the second Wednesday each month at 7 p.m. at the Kennedyville United Methodist Church.
“We will be having a large celebration for them next year on their 100th anniversary. Plan to join us back at the fairgrounds, we’re going to have a huge celebration for this club,” Hill said.
The 4-H Nature After School Club is for those in third through fifth grade. They do not meet over the summer, but meet the first and third Monday of the month during the school year.
The club focuses on the outdoors, nature and environmental science.
Puppy Pals is a dog club that intends to “help people with their dogs and teach their dogs new and exciting things” Vice President Casey Turner said.
Puppy Pals is open to youth age 5-18. They meet on the third and fourth Wednesday each month at 6:30 p.m. The location varies.
Triple Shots Shooting Sports is open to youth age 8-18. Members work in three shooting disciplines: archery, shotguns and rifles.
They meet on the first Wednesday of the month. Locations vary.
Additional reporting by Editor Daniel Divilio.