REYNOLDS – Despite the ongoing COVID-19 health emergency, the White County 4-H Fair is on and will be an in-person affair.
But 4-H members who don’t feel comfortable attending will be offered a virtual option, according to Miranda Furrer, Purdue Extension White County’s 4-H Youth Development educator.
Either way, she said this year’s fair will look “very different” than past fairs due to the COVID-19 health emergency.
And it won’t be open to the general public.
“(It) will be primarily focused on achieving the opportunity to provide 4-H’ers with an exhibition activity,” Furrer said. “Our practices and procedures will seek to follow CDC guidance, Indiana’s Back on Track plan, and Purdue University’s guidelines applied to fairs.”
Should White County become a “hotspot” for rising COVID-19 cases, Furrer said the fair “will be ready” to become a virtual event should it not be in Stage 5 (statewide opening with declining virus cases) status.
An online petition on change.org is asking Purdue University and its Extension service to relax its restrictions on statewide 4-H fairs because “not all areas will be in the same state of emergency,” therefore blanket restrictions shouldn’t be applied.
“While there are many opinions and thoughts on the subject of COVID-19 and how society should respond, please know that the following decisions were not taken lightly,” Furrer said. “All parties involved considered the core purpose for the 4-H county fair while conducting the decision-making process.
Furrer provided a list of what she called “key bullet points” pertaining to this year’s White County 4-H Fair:
- July 17-23 will continue to be the dates for the White County Fair. However, some events that typically occur during this window may be moved to accommodate social distancing and to spread out 4-H events.
- No livestock will be penned overnight, meaning all livestock will arrive, be exhibited and go home on the same day. This will be a “Show and Go” Livestock Exhibition. Also, this year’s fair will not be open to the general public. Rather, it will be an opportunity for 4-H’ers to exhibit animal projects.
- Most 4-H exhibit hall projects will be done via drive-through drop off with closed judging. Some projects will be judged virtually. The 4-H Building will not be open to the public during the fair.
- All 4-H’ers, 4-H volunteers and staff may be required to wear face coverings when engaged in 4-H activities where social distancing is not possible. Contact tracing may also be required depending on recommendations from the White County Health Department. Therefore, limits will be placed on the number of individuals within buildings viewing events.
- The 4-H livestock auction will also look different. Although all the details have not been worked out, there will be no animals present, and there will be a virtual alternative.
- There will likely be no entertainment and limited food vendors.
- The White County 4-H Fair Queen contest is still happening but will look different.
Furrer said restrictions are subject to change based on local and state directives as it relates to the COVID-19 health emergency situation.
“The Purdue Extension White County staff appreciates the cooperation of the White County Ag Association in making an in-person fair possible,” she said. “While not everyone may agree with the decisions, let’s celebrate the fact that these 4-H youth can at least participate via in-person competition to share and learn.”
Furrer said this year’s fair provides a chance to teach young people how to adapt to situations they won’t always be able to control.
“Every year, 4-H builds life skills providing challenges to overcome and achieve,” she said. “This year is an excellent opportunity teach youth to persevere in tough times.”