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Editorial: 4-H fair time for fun, celebration of youth

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The Johnson County 4-H and Agricultural Fair opens this weekend and offers a veritable cornucopia of fun, food and festivities.

Whether your tastes run to amusement-park-style rides and games, unique edible treats, music or the roar of drag races, tractor pulls and the demolition derby, you can find something to like at the fair.

The festivities begin with the annual parade through downtown Franklin at 4 p.m. today. On Sunday afternoon, the midway will open, with its panoply of amusement rides, games and food. Commercial and 4-H exhibits also will be open for inspection.

For many people in Johnson County, the fair is the major event of the summer. Some take vacations that week in order to help out.

It’s a wonderful week, full of fun and tradition.

But the fair is much more than that.

Amid the food, fun and at times almost frantic activity, it’s easy to forget that behind every FFA and 4-H project, whether it’s an animal, a model, poster or piece of cake, there’s a young person. Celebrating their accomplishments is the main reason the fair is really staged.

The 4-H and FFA members get a lot out of competing beyond ribbons, as nice as they are. They develop skills in a variety of areas. They build self-esteem and develop a motivation to succeed. They learn to set and attain goals and meet deadlines. Most importantly, they develop a self-confidence that will stay with them the rest of their lives.

Each project requires the young people to do research and fill out a form that describes what was learned and what went into the project. This teaches them to be thorough and detail-oriented.

They also learn how to win and how to lose, showing grace either way.

A livestock judge once opened his judging by addressing the audience. “Remember,” he said, “this is all about the kids. These livestock are just the entry ticket for the kids to get in.”

That is true of all the projects.

So, as you head out to the fair, take a moment to visit Fitzpatrick, Magill and Scott halls and look at the FFA and 4-H exhibits. Each one represents the work of a Johnson County youngster.

That’s the real reason for the fair.

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