4-H Day at the North Florida Fair celebrated a triumphant return on Saturday November 13. This annual event in Tallahassee took a hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic but returned in full force this past Saturday. 4-H Day at the Fair is an event that connects 4-H members and their families with each other from across North Florida. The fair was filled with a sea of green as eager 4-H members joined together to compete in 4-H contests, enjoy fair rides, and sample delicious fair food. The North Florida Fair provides 4-H members and volunteers with special deals on rides for the day. 4-H Member Arvaneh G. shared that her favorite part was “all the rides, especially the Himalaya, and the bounce houses”.
Before the rides and fair are open, 4-H Day Starts in the early morning as members compete in a variety of contests. This year, those contests were the STEM Challenge, Consumer Choices, Agriculture Judging, Horticulture Identification, and Wildlife Ecology. Members put their life skills developed through 4-H to work by displaying critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving during the contests. A total of 116 youth competed in the contests during 4-H Day at the North Florida Fair this year. Participants had the option to compete as individuals or on a team in each contest. Senior 4-H Member Sophia L. shared “it was really great to see the Wildlife Ecology Contest return, we had such a great turn out with a lot of variety in ages”. Sophia expressed how she was excited for the contest to be back, adding “there is something about that friendly competition atmosphere this is really motivating, seeing so many people that are all passionate about similar things”.
The topic of the STEM Challenge Contest this year involved building a roller coaster using the engineer design process. All youth competing in this contest were placed on a team based on their age division. A limited amount of materials were provided and the teams worked together to create a roller coaster that would carry a marble from the top of the coaster to the bottom with at least two loops and one curve. The teams were judged on creativity, communication, and teamwork. The final designs were put on display in the 4-H Building for the remainder of the fair.
The Consumer Choices Contest measured the ability of youth to be smart shoppers. The item categories this year were cell phone plans, ground transportation selection, wireless portable speakers, and smoothies. 4-H members had the opportunity to compete in this contest as an individual or on a team. Each individual or team was provided with a “situation card”. Based on the criteria provided in the card, members were asked to review four different choices of each item and rank them from best to worst based on the criteria. After they were finished ranking, they would have to justify their selection through an “oral reasoning” section.
During the Agriculture Judging Contest, individuals and teams were tested on their knowledge of beef, poultry, hay, corn, soybean, and oats. Youth competed both as individuals and on teams with their age division. Agriculture judging consists of analyzing a product (i.e. cattle, soybeans) and measuring it against a standard. Members were asked to analyze four different choices of each item and rank them from best to worst based on the standard.
The Horticulture Identification Contest tested the ability of members to identify over 60 horticulture specimens. The items were divided into four separate categories. Those categories were ornamentals, fruits & vegetables, flowers, and foliage. The specimens were laid out on tables, each bearing a number that corresponds to a scoresheet, that listed over 100 plant names. This contest replicates the state 4-H Horticulture Contest held each year in June.
Wildlife Ecology Contest
During the Wildlife Ecology Contest, members were tested on their knowledge of Florida trees, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. They identified the various items through pictures, physical specimens, and audio sounds. 4-H Member Joycelyn G. joined 4-H this past year and had the opportunity to participate in two contests this year. When asked what her favorite thing about 4-H Day at the Fair was, she answered “I loved the rides and I loved the competition. Thank you very much for having a special spot for me. I really loved the fair. It was the best day ever!”
4-H Exhibits & Club Booth Building
In addition to contests, members had the opportunity to view exhibits and club booths in the 4-H Building at the fair. 4-H members from across the panhandle submit exhibits that express what they have learned through their 4-H experience. Premiums and special merit awards are issued to members whose exhibits demonstrate outstanding efforts and quality in each class. Club booths are constructed by club members and volunteers. The club booths showcase the various 4-H clubs in North Florida.