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It’s Fair Season – a Family Guide to Fair Exhibits

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It’s that time of year again – Fair Season!  

I can just smell the delicious scents of midway foods and see and hear the lights and squeals on carnival rides?  But to most 4-H families, fairs go way beyond food and rides.  During fair season, youth throughout the state dress up with pride in their 4-H green attire and prepare for what’s to come…fair exhibits!

Fair exhibits can range from artwork to plants to animals and finally, the epic fair booths. The most important thing for youth and adult exhibitors is knowing:

1. What counties are allowed to participate?

2. What and how many categories you may enter?

3. Exhibit requirements.

Here, we’ll cover preparing for fair booths and animal exhibits but you can find multiple links below for the state and local fairs with more information on exhibit entries and requirements.

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Fair booths are the highlight of displays at the fair

Organizations, like 4-H, use fair booths to visually communicate what we offer.  Fair booths can be a great way to create a sense of Belonging in your club by having all members feel like they’re part of the 4-H Family!  You want your communication to be effective, so prepare a checklist:

  1. Research the fair you want to enter – determine the deadline and registration requirements.
  2. Will you earn a booth premium?  If so, figure out how much your club is willing to spend on supplies based on the premium could receive.
  3. Determine the size of your booth. Going out of booth boundaries can be a point deficit on the scorecard.
  4. Pick your booth theme and layout.
  5. Get commitments from members and parents to help with preparation, setup and breakdown.  Delegate tasks so everyone feels like they have contributed.

Check out Exhibits and Displays” below for a full checklist and more information!

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4-H’er talking to the judge of the Rabbit Show at Walton County Fair.

4-H Animal Exhibits

Rabbit, chicken, cattle, swine and goat exhibits are staples of fair week.  Animal exhibits give many people the opportunity to see, learn about and interact with animals they don’t normally come across.  For our 4-H youth, livestock exhibits and shows give youth the ability to gain Mastery through 4-H Project Learning. These highly experiential experiences teach youth a multitude of life skills.  To get your animals fair ready:

  1. Research the fair’s deadlines and registration. Be sure to check deadlines for acquiring ownership and birth-dates of your animals.
  2. Check the vaccination and health certificate requirements for your animal and secure an appointment with a veterinarian to have this completed.
  3. Be on time or early to check-in. Sometimes, there is only one Agriculture Inspector and a long line of exhibitors. Some animals are required to do on-site blood testing, so be prepared with your paperwork and be patient.
  4. Determine if the fair provides the food and bedding and if exhibitors are required to care for their animals daily. This is not only important for the nutritional well-being of your animal but also for their emotional well-being.

Helpful Links:

Florida Panhandle Fair Opportunities:

If you’re a fair veteran, 4-H alumni, or just someone interested in benefiting the youth of your community, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office to find out how you can become a 4-H Volunteer and share your expertise!

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Author: Jena Brooks - brooks15@ufl.edu