Pratt County agents and youth prepare for ’4-H only’ fair

Kahrie Stegman
Pratt County 4-Hers Dallie, Kaidee, Cole, and (dad) Roy Winklepleck walk their sheep and dog as part of conditioning needed for the county fair. COVID-19 has changed fair plans, like other events this year.

Plans have changed for nearly every aspect of the Pratt County Fair this year due to the coronavirus, but Pratt County Extension Agents are working hard to make sure area 4-Hers can still have the fair.

“This year the county fair will only feature our 4-H youth doing what they do best, showing off their project work that they have been working on all year,” said Jodi Drake, Pratt County Extension Agent.

There will not be evening entertainment, concerts, a carnival, commercial vendors, or Open Class exhibits inside the exhibit building this year, but 4-Hers will still have plenty of opportunities to show off their projects and get judged.

Judging will look different this year, though. Typically, nearly all judges are held in person. This year, families will instead drop off their exhibits at scheduled times, and their projects will be judged the next day.

“The judges have been asked to write comments for the exhibitors,” Drake said.

The Fashion Revue and Demonstrations will be held virtually, and livestock shows are currently still being planned as in-person judgings.

“Livestock shows will be conducted in as safe of an environment as can be managed and plans are still being made for a Livestock Auction on Saturday, July 25,” Drake said.

Since the first Pratt County Fair was strictly 4-H-only, the Agents feel that this year’s fair theme, “The Fair Necessities,” is fitting for our current situation.

“We truly feel like we are returning to our roots as we make plans for the 2020 Pratt County Fair and we could not have picked a more fitting theme as we focus on The Fair Necessities,” Drake said.

Elly Fowler of the Glendale Reapers 4-H Club finished her senior year at Pratt High School this spring and is involved in the leadership, arts and crafts, sewing, and needle arts projects in 4-H.

“As a 4-Her, I appreciate all that the agents have done in order to give the 4-Hers the ability to have a fair still,” Fowler said. “I am excited to see how the fair can still happen, even if it isn’t open for the public.”

“While I don’t do many projects other than the inside exhibits, not being able to show it to the public, all the hard work I have done will definitely change,” Fowler said. “It will, no doubt, be way different than any other fair Rratt County has had.”

Fowler is disappointed that the fair won’t be the same this year, but she knows it is for the best and she is grateful for the Extension Agents’ efforts.

“I’ve always enjoyed walking around the fair and seeing all that was there, whether that was the livestock, the exhibits in the exhibit hall, or the vendors that come with it,” Fowler said. “It is certainly a little upsetting that the fair had to be like this, but it for sure is for the better. With all the rules that come with reopening the state, it will always be a difficult decision on what is and isn’t the right thing to do for the safety of those around them.”

Dallie, 11, Kaidee,10 and Cole Winklepleck, 7, of the Pratt Pioneers 4-H Club. Besides showing their livestock, the Winkleplecks were looking forward to the carnival and demolition derby.

Dallie’s favorite project is the sheep project, and she is not sure of how judging for that will look this summer.

“I think it might change,” Dallie said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Kaidee’s favorite project is sheep as well.

“I think there’s gonna be less people in the ring,” Kaidee said of the sheep judging classes at the fair.

Cole said his favorite project is cooking, and this is his first year in 4-H.