May 21, 2020
Dear 4-H Members, Parents, and Volunteers,
After much deliberation, and with a heavy heart, the July 2020 Steuben County 4-H Fair will be transitioning to a virtual format. This was a painstaking, humble decision as we recognize youth and their families have experienced a great deal of disappointment already in 2020.
The Steuben County 4-H Fair Board reviewed the stipulations outlined in the State Governor’s Back On Track plan and the additional exhibition and safety requirements to host in-person events provided by Purdue University. These requirements included, but were not limited to, social distancing in all areas including buildings, barns, bleachers, and arenas; face coverings for youth, volunteers, and staff; daily health screenings of volunteers and staff; registration of all attendees for contact tracing in the event of a confirmed case of a communicable disease; and sanitation of all touched surfaces including tables, chairs, bleachers, hoses, spigots, wheel barrows, and the like. We did not feel that we could adhere to all of the imposed guidelines while still providing a positive youth experience.
The fair won’t be the fair we have always known—not even close—and we grieve that with you. We are grateful that families have prioritized 4-H despite the pandemic, and we want to continue the tradition of putting your hard work and learning on display, albeit in a totally different manner than we are accustomed to. There will no doubt be opportunity for youth to practice creativity and mastery as we undertake this new challenge together and prove youth resilience.
All submitted 4-H exhibits will be judged and made public using FairEntry, the system we have utilized for entries, show bills, and results over the past several years. Youth will upload photos of their 4-H exhibits and/or related files (ie. skills cards). Some 4-H project exhibits may include videos. Specific details about how to exhibit and what to include in your virtual exhibit will be shared after they undergo local review. Alongside the Extension Office, we will begin experimenting with platforms by which to make your exhibits public (including your name, photos, ribbon, award, etc.). Scorecards/critiques and ribbons will be distributed at a later time.
We encourage all youth to exhibit virtually. However, there is no shame in opting out of the virtual fair, and there is certainly no penalty. As has always been the case, 4-H projects are considered “complete” upon completion of the respective 4-H record sheet, and tenure is subsequently added to the 4-H member’s record.
Best practices will be explored as we work other counties in the same situation. We are determined to recognize 10 year members and graduating seniors. Our intent is to offer a support auction for market animals that will have exhibited virtually. More details will follow after the Auction Committee convenes.
The news may be upsetting for some and a relief to others. No matter your stance, we kindly ask that you refrain from disrespectful dialogue and discourse, as we have seen so prevalent on social media lately, and be of good character.
The Steuben County 4-H Fair Board