Eye on Extension: Celebrate timeless traditions at the 2017 SLV Fair

VALLEY — Hundreds of 4-H members from all over the Valley will be spending their next week gearing up for the San Luis Valley Fair. This annual tradition is a celebration of the agricultural heritage of the Valley, and the learning and achievement of local youth. This year’s fair runs from August 5 to 12 at Ski Hi Park in Monte Vista.

4-Hers have spent the past year working on various projects along with adult mentors. The fair is an opportunity to show off their hard work.

Many Valley youth choose to raise livestock as one of their 4-H projects. Animals range from small rabbits and poultry, up to steers weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Youth have spent months caring for these animals and getting them ready to show at the fair. While doing so, they’ve learned responsibility and perseverance.

Their hard work doesn’t end when they get to the fair. Each day, you can see youth bustling around taking care of their animals, and getting them ready to show and sell. The general public can come see these kids display their animals at shows throughout the week.

In addition to the livestock projects, visitors to the fair can also stop in the main building to see other project work on display. 4-H members learn life skills by working on projects that match their interests. These include cake decorating, woodworking, cooking, sewing, leathercraft, entomology, visual arts, shooting sports, photography and more. Final projects are meant to reflect members’ skills. They are judged on Monday, August 7, then displayed the rest of the week. Top exhibits are selected to represent the Valley at the Colorado State Fair later in the month.

In addition to exhibits and livestock, a number of youth will be demonstrating their skills in shows and contests. Horse project members have three days of shows where they display their skills in disciplines like western riding, ranch horse, English riding, and gymkhana. These shows are a favorite of mine because they are a great reflection of the hours of riding and practice the kids put in with their animals.

Another show that I particularly enjoy watching is the dog show. Dogs compete in obedience and rally classes, following commands from their owners. The show is a great demonstration of the hours of training the youth completed with their pets.

A number of contests are held for specific projects throughout the week as well. Tuesday night, clothing members model outfits they’ve created in the Fair Fashion Show. On Wednesday, cake decorating members decorate cakes in front of a judge and live audience. Later that day, robotics teams compete against each other in a themed fair challenge. All of these contests are opportunities for kids to show off their skills and hard work.

The general public is invited to come watch any of these SLV fair shows or contests at no cost. Come out during the fair to support these youth, admire their work, and celebrate the timeless traditions of the Valley. Find out more about the fair and view a complete schedule on the SLV Fair website at www.sanluisvalleyfair.com.

Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. To find out more about Extension and the 4-H program visit http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu or call 719-852-7381. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.