If you have finished dinner and are reading it while reared back in your recliner, you missed the grand opening, but you still have nine more days to visit the fair. Your county fair is the one that last year was named the best county agricultural fair in the entire state.
You often hear the phrase “bigger and better than ever.” If you hear someone use this phrase this year in relation to the county fair, you will know that they know what they are talking about. A lot of people have made a lot of effort to make sure that this year’s fair provides the most affordable entertainment anywhere around, plenty of fun for all ages, a tremendous assortment of foods and entertainment, and that the fair is a great opportunity for clean and safe family fun.
I say this often, so please know I am serious when I encourage those who have not attended the county fair in recent years to make a special effort to attend this year. If you are a first-time visitor, I encourage you to visit on a weekend afternoon or one evening early next week. Visit while everything is fresh and attractive and at a time when fewer people are on the fairgrounds, so you can park near the gate and stroll leisurely around the grounds.
Before leaving the grounds, please find Coble D. Wilson, the president of the fair board, or one of the other fair board members wearing the wine-colored shirts and let us know what you thought about your fair. We want to know if you like it, and if so, what you liked best. We also what to know if you did not like it and what you suggest we do next year to make it better.
Steve Troxler, commissioner of agriculture, and Cherie Berry, commissioner of labor, will be on hand to help celebrate the grand opening. The Department of Agriculture coordinates all county agricultural fairs in the state, and inspectors from the Department of Labor thoroughly inspect each of the carnival rides before anyone is allowed to ride.
A very important part of the grand opening ceremonies this year will be Robeson County 4-H. It is a convenient coincidence that next week is National 4-H Week. Our county commissioners have officially proclaimed National 4-H Week in Robeson County, so Noah Woods, chairman of the board of county commissioners, will be presenting this proclamation.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of 4-H in North Carolina. Many of our fair exhibits and events will focus on youth and the accomplishments of 4-H members across the county. At the conclusion of the opening ceremonies, everyone will see the release of 100 4-H balloons and will be able to enjoy 4-H birthday cake along with an assortment of carnival foods.
Many fairs across the nation, especially in the heartland and in the northeast, are actually called 4-H fairs. Exhibits, livestock shows, contests, events and even food stands highlight 4-H members and their clubs. Although not to this degree, the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair has always considered youth and 4-H youth the most important aspect of the fair. That is why the fair board also includes a 4-H Junior Fair Board of about 12 high school students.
Many 4-H clubs will be showing off their skills in 4-H educational booths. These are booths designed not only to educate those who go to the fair but also to educate the 4-H youth who develop them about a certain topic or issue.
One of the most noticeable and most interesting 4-H educational booths you will see at the fair this year will be the one provided by the St. Pauls 4-H Pony Club. Mrs. Libby Burney, the adult volunteer leader for this club, provides an opportunity for youth in her community to meet on a weekly basis. She uses the normal attraction that youth have for horses to keep the youths’ attention and to create an opportunity to teach a great variety of subjects.
Last year, a neighbor called Mrs. Burney and told her there was a horse skeleton far down in the woods. No one could determine how the horse died. Mrs. Burney saw this as a learning opportunity for her 4-H club members. She wanted to gather up the bones, clean them up, and develop a display of a horse’s skeleton, so she could teach her club members about a horse’s anatomy.
For almost a year now when they meet, these youth have learned to be detectives, anthropologists, medical examiners, veterinarians, artists, sculptors, teachers and historians. In gaining these skills, they have developed an educational exhibit for the county fair. After the fair is over, the exhibit will be used for various lessons during 4-H club meetings and can be used as an educational exhibit for many other occasions.
Now you have one more reason to come to your county fair. Come see the St. Pauls 4-H Pony Club’s booth that features a real horse’s skeleton. When you come, please take time to notice how many different booths, exhibits, and contests showcases the accomplishments of the youth of Robeson County. You will not only be proud of your county fair but you will be proud of our youth.