December 18, 2017
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Pledging for 4-H

Vanderburgh County Fair represents generations of work
Horse and Pony Costume Contest

I pledge my head to clearer thinking

Young people across the county devote themselves to 4-H projects, from sewing to robotics, every year. They wake up before dawn to brush their calves and practice walking their hogs.

Then, one summer week, they present their work to everyone.

“The main focus of the fair is to give these kids a platform to showcase what they have learned throughout the year on their projects,” says Norman Reibold of Evansville, president of the Vanderburgh County Fair Association. “The fair then goes a little further and makes it a community event and provides entertainment.”

This year’s fair, July 25-30, features activities and entertainment ranging from a Dustin Lynch concert to a Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League tractor pull.

Between grandstand events, day campers devour watermelons. Teenagers ride the Zipper. Proud grandparents peruse award-winning projects. Old friends wind through a field of classic tractors and into the livestock barns. Piglets cuddle up to their mother.

Even the animals know the 4-H Center is for families.

My heart to greater loyalty

Those who enjoyed the fair as youngsters return year after year with their own children, loyal to the traditions begun 96 years ago at the first Vanderburgh County 4-H Fair.

“We lived on a farm, and there were seven of us kids, so we didn’t have everything, but Mom and Dad did take us, one night, to the Vanderburgh County Fair,” says Reibold. “Before we left, they had to make sure that we got an ice cream. I guess that’s why I still carry on the tradition. I’ve got to have that ice cream at the end of the night.”

It goes beyond the Young Dairyman booth, though.

My hands to larger service

The coordinator of food operations, Kim Racine of Evansville, takes volunteering to another level.

“She gets her whole family involved,” says Reibold. “Her husband helps coordinate the distribution of all the food products. All the kids help out during the day, distributing the supplies. Even though they’re volunteers, they still make it a family affair.”

And my health to better living

When everything is said and done Saturday night, the fairgrounds clear. Kids are off to start new projects, to learn more, and to live better.

“They’ve got to complete a project, or they’ve got to take care of an animal,” says Reibold. “It teaches them life skills, but also it’s giving them responsibility.”

And it’s the responsibility of the Board of Directors to start rolling with plans for the 97th year.

“We don’t just show up in May and say, ‘All right, let’s make plans,’” says Reibold. “We only got about a two-week rest, and then starting in August, we’re already making plans for the following year. It takes a lot of people and a lot of hard work.”

For my club, my community, my country, and my world.

For more information on the Vanderburgh County 4-H Fair, visit vanderburghcountyfair.com.

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