4-H front and center

Katelyn Miller, 11, from Cherry Creek had a busy day at the fair on Monday. Pressed into service after the person scheduled to sing canceled, Katelyn sang the National Anthem at the opening ceremony near Gate 5. Dressed in a pink and white outfit, she gave a creditable a cappella performance, hitting those difficult high notes on pitch.

Less than half an hour later, clad in more casual clothes, Katelyn explained the workings of the dairy barn to assembled dignitaries during the annual VIP tour conducted by the 4-H. Still later, she sat with her older brother Andrew, 17, who is the Junior Superintendent in the Dairy Barn.

It was a day for 4-H members to shine.

County Executive Greg Edwards said, “I looked forward to the opportunity to attend the 4-H tour again this year. Everyone walks away amazed at how much these young people can do. I am impressed with how engaged the kids and parents are. … There are so many ways for them (students) to express and develop themselves from projects dealing with the family dog to others that encourage artistic expression.”

Edwards said he visited 25 county fairs when he was campaigning for Lieutenant Governor.

“Our 4-H exceeds others,” he said. “I encourage people to come out to the fair and look at these exhibits.”

Emily Brown, 10, explained how to show rabbits. Using Frederick, her one-and-a-half-year-old rabbit, she explained how to work down the rabbit’s body to check the health and quality of the animal.

“There can’t be any goop in their eyes,” she said.

Elizabeth Comstock, 12, is part of the hog program.

“I have learned a lot,” she said.

She learned footballs are made of pigskin, and that the skin can be used to help people with medical problems like burns because pigskin is very closely related to human skin.

Legislator Lori Cornell asked if there were piglets in the barn this year. Elizabeth answered there are 13 piglets that are a couple weeks old.

Hannah Hornyak, 12, was part of the dog project. Her family’s pet Winn-Dixie, a Jack Russell terrier, went through an obstacle course in a calm and obedient fashion, paying attention to Hannah’s commands.

Kendra Hockran, 16, from Bemus Point was part of a group that explained the workings of the horse barn. Later she explained that the horses will be coming in on Tuesday. Showing of horses will be held beginning Wednesday with the English style riding at 9 a.m. in the horse show arena. Other events will include western style riding, a drill team event, a gymkhana event, and a fun horse show.

Enthusiastic about horses, she spoke of her own commitment to horsemanship. She has seven horses including a miniature horse, four quarter horses, a paint, and a thoroughbred. Kendra participates in all styles of riding.

“I enjoy it all,” she said.

Her enjoyment comes with a price. She takes care of the stable chores.

She said, “I spend about seven hours a day in the barn.”

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell expressed his admiration for 4-H.

He said, “I want to plug 4-H. It’s incredible because it teaches hard work, personal responsibility, budgeting, and financial management. All this comes from raising an animal to full size. … These skills are important and will help them (young people) throughout their lives.”

Goodell said the 4-H in the county is trying to build a $2 million endowment fund. They have raised about $80,000 to date.

He said, “I have contributed and I hope others will contribute as well.”

In the animal barns, the 4-H members are happy to talk about their animals and answer questions. Andrew Miller, 17, junior superintendent in the dairy barn, patiently answered questions. He works on his family’s farm in Cherry Creek and hopes to take it over someday. The farm has about 100 milk cows, mostly Holstein. There are also replacement heifers and some animals that are raised for show. He will be the fourth generation.

County Legislator Tom DeJoe said, “The fair is for the kids. People should come and see how much the youth can do.”

Comments on this article may be directed to dchodan@observertoday.com