REYNOLDS – At the moment, the White County 4-H Youth Fair is still on.
But as with most everything during the COVID-19 health emergency, that could change at a moment’s notice.
Purdue Extension announced May 15 that county 4-H fairs can occur after Purdue University’s restrictions on face-to-face events ends June 30.
Officials said local 4-H fair boards, 4-H councils and county extension education may continue planning for their respective events and fairs in alignment with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track Indiana” plan to reopen the state, as well as consultation with local health officials.
According to the “Back on Track Indiana” plan, county 4-H fairs may begin July 4 – the start of Stage 5 of the plan that allows large-scale events to commence if local health officials confirm that it is safe to do so.
The White County 4-H Fair is currently scheduled for July 17-23.
“The first criteria to be met will be that the county must be at Stage 5 of Gov. Holcomb’s re-opening plan to proceed with any in-person 4-H event,” said Andrew Westfall, Purdue Extension White County’s director and agriculture and natural resources educator. “Obviously this is a very fluid situation. Our office will be working diligently over the coming days and weeks with the White County Agriculture Association, the White County Commissioners, and the White County Health Department to determine the best course of action for (this) year’s 4-H fair.”
Even so, event organizers must ensure social distancing guidelines, screen employees and volunteers working on behalf of Purdue Extension, continue to disinfect high-traffic areas, and offer hand sanitizer and cleaning stations to employees and guests.
Despite the governor’s “Back of Track” plan, Miranda Furrer, Purdue Extension White County’s 4-H Youth Development educator, said because White County 4-H is part of Purdue University, the university can implement restrictions that are far stricter than the state.
“While I understand this is disappointing, we have a lot to look forward to,” Furrer wrote for an upcoming column in the Herald Journal. “We’ve got lots of virtual programming that will be coming out this summer. It is our priority to keep all 4-H members, volunteers, and families in the community safe and healthy.”
If and when the White County 4-H Fair happens, Westfall said it will look much different than in years past.
“We will be working hard to try and make the best of the situation for our 4-Hers in the county,” he said. “This will include coming up with different plans that will include an in-person event, as well as a virtual fair and different things in between.”
Purdue Extension is one of the nation’s largest providers of scientific researched-based information and education with a network of colleges, universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that serves communities and counties, including White County. It offers service programs in agriculture and natural resources, health and human services, economic and community development, and 4-H youth development.