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Hayden Artz and Peyton Artz show their sheep during the fair. Both sheep were named Market Champions.

This weekend marks the 73rd year of the Polk County Youth Fair, which means dozens of children and animals will head out to the Polk County Fairgrounds for a few days of fun. 

Although fun is usually what attracts people to the fair, 4-H youth development specialist Velynda Cameron says “participating in a county fair is much more.”

“Youth who participate in a fair also learn independence and responsibility, receive feedback and gain positive relationships with caring adults,” Cameron said in a news release.

While kids who participate in 4-H do have fun, they also have to be responsible while balancing livestock, crafts, food and other events they may be entered in, she said. All of these events also run on a deadline, which is another thing they have to consider. 

“It is an opportunity for youth to learn how to balance their responsibilities with their desire to have fun,” Cameron said. “Youth that go to the fair to show their hand-made and livestock projects learn how to handle the world.” 

Members of 4-H work on their projects throughout the year, and the county fair is where they get feedback on those projects. 

At the fair, winning isn’t the only thing that matters, said Cameron. Being able to present something to a judge teaches 4-Hers the value of putting effort into something and seeing it pay off.

The youth fair also demonstrates how mentoring is fundamental in 4-H. Older 4-H members often mentor beginners on skills they need to compete, whether showing livestock or decorating cakes.

From responsibility to time management to mentoring, competing in a county fair teaches kids skills that they can use for the rest of their lives, she adds.

“This year at the fair, when we are all hot, sweaty and tired, keep in mind that we are there for more than fun. We stay because of the many benefits our young people receive that will last far longer than any placing, ribbon or check,” she said.

There are multiple free events for those who attend, including a tractor pull, pig scramble and various livestock shows. There are plenty of things to do for people of all ages.

To learn more about 4-H and the upcoming youth fair, contact Velynda Cameron at 326-4916 or at cameronv@missouri.edu.

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