Fifteen 4-H Clubs and over 70 youth participated in the Franklin County 4-H Fair. 4-H members exhibited crafts, rabbits and products from farms. There was also an oxen pull on the other side of the Heath Fairgrounds.
Tom Waskiewicz, 4-H Educator at the UMASS office in Amherst, MA noted that the fair held at the Heath Fairground in Heath, MA, this summer, is a highlight in 4-H’ers’ lives, as participants create memories and friendships. He extended the following message for all the 4-H’ers: “…continue to take pride in sharing your expertise with the public. For many fairgoers, this is their first exposure to 4-H and the positive impressions they receive are lasting and strong. Congratulations to all of our 4-H’ers whose work will be recognized during the fair. And many thanks to our youth and adult volunteers and staff who contribute ‘To Make the Best Better!’ This fair could not happen without the caring and talented 4-H adult volunteers who work directly with our youth. The experiences that result inspire creativity not only in our youth but also in our adults who give their time and talent to make this event a success.”
According to Waskiewicz, the goals of the County 4-H Fair are to showcase, evaluate and recognize the 4-H members’ accomplishments; encourage teens and adults to become 4-H volunteers; highlight the county 4-H program; familiarize the public with 4-H philosophy; and provide an opportunity for the public to participate in an enjoyable and educational family-oriented 4-H event.
Four Master Gardeners from the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association based at UMASS Amherst were on hand to answer gardening questions and host a delightful scavenger hunt. “I’ve been doing it for three years. It’s a lot of fun,” said Master Gardener Norene Roberts from Goshen, MA. The other Master Gardeners were Amy Moscaritolo, George Stephan of Ashfield and Pam Porter of Heath.
Participants were given a tiny booklet and set off to find small boxes placed strategically throughout the fair grounds. When they found each letterbox, they answered questions and marked it off in their booklet. The winner got a prize. There was also a quiz, with easy gardening questions. Each quiz winner received a packet of seeds.
Over in the rabbit barn was Shirley Toombs of Shelburne, MA. She has been running the rabbit barn at the Heath Fair and elsewhere for “45 to 50 years, at least,” she said.
One of the skills that 4-H’ers learn is judging. Two members, Tate Mason and Stephanie Thrasher, judged Laurel Lamoureux of Granby, MA in the showmanship class. Lamoureux demonstrated her knowledge as she held her Netherland Dwarf rabbit, listing how she checks her rabbit for health issues including tumors.
Youngsters Lexie and Logan Goddard of Conway, MA toured the rabbit barn with their mother Kim Goddard. The family was considering buying a caramel bundle of fur — a Netherland Dwarf rabbit named Sahara — from its owner Loralie Backus of Gilbertville, MA.
Things were busy over at the oxen pull. Aidan Hall of Auburn, MA and his team, one-year old Shorty and Davy, took their turn and pulled a 3,500-pound stone-boat. Hall had a good working relationship with his pair, using his voice to urge them on and lightly tapping them with his goad stick.
At the 4-H Hall, Exhibit Hall coordinators Launie York and Cindy Smith, of Shelburne, looked over the exhibits entered by the youth and were very pleased with this year’s efforts. For more information visit www.wmmga.org, www.4-h.org or call 413-577-0788.