Local 4-H kids get ready to show at county fair
With the Lee County Fair just two weeks away, kids from the Wild Wranglers 4-H Club and other organizations are preparing to present their animals to the judges.
But first, participants had to perform demonstrations to their own club members as two organizations crammed into the meeting rooms at the North Fort Myers Community Park on Sunday.
It was all part of 4-H’s regular meeting, which is held on the second Sunday of every month. But while this was standard operating procedure, it also wasn’t, for it was the last meeting before the fair, and everyone had a lot of work to do, from working on their books to deciding on what their booth at the fair would look like.
4-H and the Southern Bits, an organization similar to 4-H except it deals more with horses, held meetings simultaneously, as the room was double-booked.
The Southern Bits girls did their demonstrations for the fair, which was usually centered around horses, but could run the gamut of almost everything.
Elizabeth Imbody, 10, for example, did a demonstration on head injuries for humans, which she knew all too well after sustaining one while riding a scooter without a helmet one Christmas, resulting in surgery.
“I thought it would be good to show what you should and shouldn’t do,” Imbody said. “People need to wear helmets and the right gear when riding horses or playing any sport that involves a helmet.”
“The kids go in front of their peers and a leader and are graded in what they do. They have to show their animals or part of that animal and do a poster,” said Wild Wrangler co-leader Tesa Howard. “The adults ask questions to see how much they know.”
The 4-H club demonstrations usually revolved around the animals the kids were showing at the fair. Faith Michael, 15, for example, did her demonstration on goats under the watchful eye of judges Christi Roos and Mary Thomas. Emily Murphy, 16, brought in a live rabbit for hers.
Meanwhile, outside, the 4-H worked on the booth it would show off in the civic center during the fair.
Rene Johnson, co-leader of 4-H, said the booth would feature the club over the years, from 1902 to today, the changes and how the club has evolved.
“We’re trying to make a timeline that looks like a scroll in the end, and we’re trying to get kids to participate,” Johnson said, who has been involved in the local 4-H for more than 20 years. “There was agriculture, sewing, corn growing, you name it. Today, there are shooting and fishing clubs. It’s just evolved.”
“It’s cool looking back and seeing everything over the years because you don’t realize it when you’re doing it and you see how things have changed,” said Elizabeth Roos, 17, president of the Wild Wranglers.
As for the kids, they’re counting the days before they present their animals at the fair, which pretty much amounts to their Super Bowl.
“It’s exciting because you get to present all your work and it’s less stressful. Everything you’ve worked hard for is coming to a close and you get to have fun at the fair,” Roos said.
Shayla Connell, 18, club vice-president, is also doing a swine for the eighth time, as well as a rabbit.
“We prepare for it from August until the fair. My hog was 60 pounds when I got it and the goal is to get it to 225 to 275 for it to be at premium market weight,” Connell said. “Even if you don’t get money from auction, it’s a great experience. It encompasses everything that 4-H is about.”
The Lee County Fair runs from Feb. 26 to March 8. The Lee County Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers.