4-H club members showcase latest projects with return of annual fair


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4-H club members throughout Mercer County will descend onto Howell Living History Farm to showcase their latest club work for the county’s annual 4-H Fair.

The fair – entering its 103rd year – returns to Howell Living History Farm, Lambertville, which is owned by the county, on July 30-31.

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As a two-day event, the fair on July 30 takes place from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. on July 31. An opening ceremony is set for 1 p.m. on July 30 inside the show tent.

“Our county 4-H fair is my favorite event of the year and it’s filled with so many traditions and wonderful moments for our 4-H members and the fair going public,” said Chad Ripberger, Mercer County 4-H agent. “Fourteen years ago, we created something unique and special by moving the fair to Howell Living History Farm. We couldn’t ask for a better setting or partner.”

The fair is designed to showcase all of the club work that has been created or conducted through the past year. 4-H clubs and their members continue to develop, grow and also raise new projects, county officials said.

“Each year I’m struck by the quality of the interactions between our 4-H members and the public. It’s wonderful to witness our ‘4-Hers’ in leadership roles as they showcase their projects,” Ripberger said. “It is also great to see so many young families enjoy the shows, contests, demonstrations and entertainment.”

The first 4-H fair in Mercer County was held at Princeton High School in 1919.

According to the program, 4-H is a youth development program operated by Rutgers Cooperative Extension, that provides research-based, hands-on learning experiences for youth in Mercer County.

The program is open to residents in their youth from first grade to one-year out of high school. Members learn values and skills, such as leadership through community service and leadership, nature, health and wellness, science, animal and art clubs.

During the fair, the Howell Farm Visitor’s Center features the many projects on display from 4-H club members and the public.

The vast grounds of the Howell farm will give attendees the chance to experience pony rides, steam engine rides, the archery range, view antique farm equipment, 4-H STEM projects, entertainment, live music at the dining tent, 4-H animal meet and greet and a pie eating contest.

“Everywhere you look at the fair, you can see joy and excitement on the faces of children of all ages. That’s a very satisfying feeling,” Ripberger said.

“We want those attending the fair to enjoy themselves, but we also want them to learn about 4-H and all the other programs and services available through Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County. 4-H is a great opportunity for youth, and it is also a great way for adults to contribute to their community,” he said.

Admission and parking is free. Judging of the exhibits is conducted by experts and they will be joined by attendees of the fair, who will also vote on their favorite exhibits in each category on July 30, according to the county.

During the fair, the community is allowed to enter “Open Division” categories for public exhibit entries. People do not need to be a 4-H member to exhibit in the fair, officials said.

Participants are able to showcase arts and crafts, photography, foods, gardening, clothing and woodworking in the open division.

The open division allows an opportunity for the public to win a blue ribbon at the fair.

Exhibits receiving the most votes will be recognized during the closing day on July 31.

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