Pratt County 4-H'ers have one more item completed on their way to the Pratt County Fair. The deadline for all pre-entries was Friday, July 5 and several 4-H'ers made their way to the Extension Office Friday to get their entries registered, said Extension Agent Jodi Drake.

The number of 4-H'ers registering at the Extension office has dropped significantly with most taking advantage of on-line registration and avoided the trip to the extension office to meet the 5 p.m. deadline on July 5. Over 300 entries had already been processed a week before the deadline and that number had risen to over 700 a week later with most registering on-line, Drake said.

When 4-H'ers register on-line they avoid having to fill out entry cards but the office staff gets the privilege of getting the registration cards processed. Cards are printed out on pre-perforated paper making it easy tear cards into individual entries.

Each 4-H'er can enter one item per class with exceptions such as arts and crafts, photography and livestock.

The first events of the fair are slated to start on July 12 with the 4-H fashion review judging at 9 a.m. and public fashion review at 7 p.m. followed on July 13 with the dog show at 10 a.m. and the workday starting at 3 p.m.

July12 is also the registration deadline for campers and is open to 4-H families only. Move in day for campers is July 14.

The Pratt County Fair has been held at the current site for 65 years. It is a showcase for 4-H'ers to display the results of their hard work in a wide variety of projects. It helps students develop leadership and discipline.

It also helps club members develop confidence in their speaking skills that carry over into late life when they go into the job market.

It gives club members and those in open class an opportunity to have their efforts examined and rated with judges.

Most judges are selected from other extension offices and have some background in the area they judge. With 12 county fairs, including the Pratt County Fair, happening the same week, some judges have to come from long distances to fill all the judging requirements.

Most 4-H members have older brothers and sisters in a club. It is not unusual for several generations of a family to participate in 4-H. Information about 4-H is available at schools and with the diversity of projects available, something is available for almost any taste.

"We encourage kids to stop by and take a look," said Extension Agent Mark Ploger.

Pratt County has seven 4-H clubs with 155 members. The Clubs are Pratt Pioneers, Glendale Reapers, Lincoln Climbers, Southwest, Preston, Golden Valley and Richland Rustlers.

Anyone between the ages of 7 and 19 are eligible to be in a club depending on the age on Jan. 1. Some club members remain in 4-H even after they have gone to college.

While 4-H is often associated with children that live on a farm, many projects appeal to both urban and rural children. And with declining rural populations, the number of farm children is also declining so getting urban children involved helps keep 4-H an available activity.

It takes a lot of volunteers, almost as many volunteers as there are 4-H'ers to make the programs work.

"They are a key to our success," Drake said.