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Ohio 4-H Youth Development

Ohio State University Extension


Junior Fair Board finds inspiration on the road

Wayne County Junior Fair Board outside the Field Museum in Chicago.

The Wayne County Junior Fair Board hit the road in August for a memorable three-day, three-state bus trip, with stops at two county fairs, the Indiana State Fair, and Chicago. This was the group’s first trip since 2019, and Junior Fair Board members and Ohio State University Extension staff alike were excited to begin traveling again.

Doug Foxx, Extension educator for 4-H in Wayne County, said “The program began in 2017 with visits to other Ohio county fairs to look for new ideas to bring back to our fair.” On a previous trip, inspiration was found at the Hartford Independent Fair in Licking County and resulted in a workroom and lounge at the Wayne County Fair for Junior Fair Board members to eat lunch and have meetings. Thanks to these trips, Foxx Junior Fair Board members on the bus.also started implementing meetings after the fair comes to a close each day, so the Junior Fair Board can process the day and discuss what went well or highlight areas where they can improve.

For Jo Bailey, a Junior Fair Board member and 4-H’er in the Wayne County Cousins club, the trip made a lasting impression. “I loved learning about the different team-building activities other Junior Fair Boards do. Spending time together makes us stronger for when fair time comes around, so it’s interesting to discover new ways to develop relationships.”

Visiting the Champaign and Henry County fairs provided opportunities to meet their Junior Fair BoardRepresentatives from the Indiana State Fair lead the group on a tour. counterparts, watch livestock shows, tour the fairgrounds and barns, and enjoy fair treats. Ethan Gasser, another Wayne County Junior Fair Board member, was particularly inspired by these experiences. “After this trip, I would be really interested in starting a show for kids with disabilities in Wayne County, where we can help them learn how to show an animal. Our fair doesn’t offer anything like this, and it would be a great experience for everyone involved.”

The Indiana State Fair was also a highlight of the trip. After receiving a tour of the grounds, Gasser was impressed by its sheer size. “Indiana’s state fair was huge! They had so much space, which The group enjoys a boat tour on the Chicago River.made it nearly impossible to see everything.” Bailey also said that it was neat to compare this experience to what she is used to at home. “I spend a lot of time at the Ohio State Fair, so I enjoyed getting to learn more about Indiana’s fair and see how spread out it is.”

Visiting Chicago was a first-time experience for many of the youth. “We visited the Field Museum of Natural History, Navy Pier, the John Hancock tower, took a speed boat tour of the lakefront and river, and attended a performance by the Blue Man Group,” said Junior Fair Board members enjoy dinner at Gino’s East.Foxx. Over a classic Chicago dinner of deep-dish pizza, the youth were also able to share their experiences and takeaways and get to know one another a bit better. “The kids really missed having this time together during Covid,” said Foxx. “They’re so busy during the fair, and I recognize how important it is for them to develop relationships.” Bailey echoed this and said her favorite experience from the trip was getting to meet new people. “I really enjoyed the bus rides between each stop because it gave everyone the chance to talk to new people and just hang out!”