Skip to main content

It’s More Than Just A Fair!


Leon County 4-H youth displaying ribbons at North Florida Fair

Leon County 4-H youth displaying ribbons at North Florida Fair

The arrival of the fall love bugs, the leaves changing colors and falling to the ground,  and the sounds of bands rehearsing and cheerleaders chanting can only mean one thing in North Florida……no it’s not time to shop for Christmas gifts…even though it’s just around the corner, but instead, it means it’s almost FAIR TIME!  Fair time is not only viewed as the first official 4-H program kickoff event where most of the club participants can play a part, but it’s also a time where youth take pride in showing off the work they have completed in their clubs.

The fair is a venue for 4-H youth to put their 4-H work on display and in many cases receive premium money based on the quality of their entries. The fair also provides opportunities for competitive events to take place and for some youth to showcase their animals they have worked with and cared for during the past year.

Can a youth’s participation in the fair help to development them into a responsible adult?  The answer is yes! The 4-H program seeks to be inclusive to all youth by using a variety of vehicles to teach youth life skills in traditional and non-traditional settings.  The vehicles used with fairs could be exhibits, animals, competitions, booths, and the list goes on and on.  A recent article in The Journal of Extension by Oregon State professionals found that “having fun” and“ spending time with friends” and “teamwork” were the highest rated motivators for participation in the fair. fairpic

The study also revealed that participation in fairs through 4-H had a significant positive effect on participants levels of caring, contribution, and character.  These characteristics are also part of the Essential Elements of 4-H that youth experience by being in an active 4-H program throughout the year.  Those elements are Belonging, Independence, Generosity, and Mastery.


These results support the conclusion that participation in county 4-H fairs do contribute to the positive development of youth. Research shows that people as a whole learn more when they are having fun and the activities and events at fairs or no exception. By setting “fair” goals that are not tied to premium money but instead to the warm fuzzies felt by youth when they feel they have contributed to a worthwhile event is the right recipe that’s sure to earn them a blue ribbon for life.  So, make plans to utilize the events in your local or regional fairs to help teach your youth life skills.  If you choose project entries, and need additional help getting those submitted, please contact your local 4-H agent and request a copy of the Document entitled “Getting 4-H Exhibits Ready For The Fair”.



 More information on this study can be obtained by visiting the Journal of Extension at and viewing volume 45, number 6.(Arnold, Meinhold, Skubinna, and Asthton)