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Livingston County 4-H planning all-virtual fair experience

Staff Writer
The Dansville Online

With the cancellation of the 2020 Hemlock Fair, the Livingston County 4-H Program is feverishly working to organize an all-virtual fair experience that will help ensure 4-H families, volunteers, judges and staff remain healthy during this historic pandemic.

The final decision was made after consultation with the Livingston County Department of Health, Finger Lakes Region Re-opening Plan and Cornell University.

While the fair experience will look different this year, one thing that will remain the same is the commitment to provide members with an opportunity to share the projects they have completed and the skills they have developed with an evaluator.

“Reflecting and sharing what youth learned with a caring adult is a key component in the Experiential Learning Model used in 4-H,” 4-H Educator Renee Hopkins said. “Through this process, youth gain an understanding of what steps they went through to complete a project, identify triumphs and troubles along the way and begin thinking about where their learning might go next.”

This year members will interact with an evaluator and receive, that ever-important, constructive feedback through a video conferencing platform such as Zoom.

The 4-H Livestock Auction, which provides individuals and businesses the opportunity to acquire fresh, top quality meat and chicken while supporting a worthwhile youth activity, will also be conducted online. The Livestock Auction, held during the Hemlock Fair, is the culmination of a 9-month project for market beef animals, a 3-month project for market hogs and lambs, and a 10-week project for market birds.

Youth Development Team Leader Mark Wittmeyer said, “As a 4-H Program, we felt it was vital to provide members with as much of a ‘normal’ fair experience as possible under the extreme circumstances. Members have worked too hard all year long completing projects as building exhibits, raising and training animals for 4-H shows and planning a business strategy to sell their market animals at the annual market animal auction for the fair experience to be completely taken away from them this summer. Although youth have already had many things completely canceled this summer, the fair experience will not be one of them.”

Since this year is the 100th anniversary of the Livingston County 4-H Program, staff were originally planning to hold a “birthday party” at the Hemlock Fair. Instead, an “End of Summer 4-H Celebration” is now being tentatively planned for August/September (pending government orders) at the fairgrounds. This will allow members to socialize as a 4-H family and enjoy a meal together. 4-H staff will also announce major awards and accomplishments from this year’s fair experience.

Finally, to help commemorate this year’s all-virtual fair experience, a scrapbook (digital and hard copy) will be created to capture all of the fun and creative work that 4-H families and clubs are doing at home.

To learn more about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County or the Livingston County 4-H Program, visit www.ccelivingstoncounty.org or call 585-991-5420 | 585-335-1752.