Eye on Extension: Keeping etiquette first at the fair

MONTE VISTA — It’s hard to believe we’re only one week away from the San Luis Valley Fair! Fair is a time to celebrate our agricultural heritage. It’s also an opportunity for local youth to show off their hard work through friendly competition.

One thing I like to remind exhibitors and their families, is that it’s important to keep etiquette first when participating in the fair. Here are my top ten fair etiquette tips, which are inspired by a list from our Blue Spruce 4-H Club.

First, remember that manners count. We are always being watched. The impression you leave others with is your choice. But, remember that you are also representing your family, club, and the 4-H and FFA programs. Make all these folks proud by being courteous and respectful at all times.

Second, always put your project first. Your project represents all your hard work and learning. Be sure to take care of it leading up to, and during fair. For youth in animal projects, this means keeping your animals comfortable, clean, well-groomed, fed, and watered throughout the week.

Third, be tidy. Keep your area, the aisles, and the entire fairgrounds clean. Equipment and tack should be neatly stored, and personal items put away. Help take any trash you make or find to the appropriate bins.

Fourth, be considerate. Stay out of the way when people are moving animals, equipment, or other items. Also, if you see that someone could use a hand with a task, offer to help!

Fifth, be sure to ask questions and report problems. Fair Board members, superintendents, leaders, and other members are there to help. Don’t be afraid to ask about something, or bring a problem to the board’s attention.

Sixth, be friendly. Show support for other members by attending their judging events and checking out their projects. You might make new friends or learn something new in the process.

Seventh, don’t forget to shut the gates! We don’t want any animals getting loose, or people wandering in places they shouldn’t be. Help prevent these problems by being mindful of the gates at all times. The general rule here is, if you open it, close it behind you.

Eighth, obey the rules. The rules for the fair and all the shows are published in the 2018 Fair Book, which you can download on the Fair’s website at www.sanluisvalleyfair.com. It’s important to read the rules, know them, and follow them.

Ninth, recognize that fair is largely a volunteer effort. Fair board members, superintendents, clerks, and other fair helpers are all volunteers. Try to keep this in mind and show some empathy when problems arise. Also, be sure to thank these folks for taking the time to make this event happen.

Above all, have fun! Sure the fair is a great competition and learning opportunity, but it’s also about friends, community, and fun. Be sure to take a break to enjoy the company of others, and all the entertainment the fair has to offer. Enter the cupcake decorating contest, get a team together for mud volleyball, or watch the Truck and Tractor Pull! Check the fair schedule for a list of all the entertainment offerings.

We hope to see all of our 4-H and FFA families at the San Luis Valley Fair, from August 4 to 11 at Ski Hi Park in Monte Vista. The event is free to attend and is also open to the public. All Valley residents are invited to come enjoy exhibits, animal shows, contests, vendors, and general fun. Learn more about the event 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.

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