Week for Families


Arianna van den Akker/The Herald
Logan Niehaus of Jasper, 13, moved a water bucket after his cow had her fill at the Dubois County 4-H Fair on Tuesday. Ariana van den Akker/The Herald

Click here for Herald staff photographers' pictures from this week.

4-H seems to run in the family. For those in Dubois County involved with 4-H, it isn’t a short-term deal, either, but instead is something that whole families dedicate countless hours, years and even lifetimes to.

During the time I spent at the Dubois County 4-H Fair this past week, I learned that it’s not uncommon to find third generations among the 4-H’ers. Though I grew up in the county, my family never caught the 4-H bug. I’ve often heard my uncles talk about their time in a 4-H club at St. Henry, and I tried it out myself for a while, but for some reason I didn’t stick with it, something I now regret.

4-H is a place where you make lifelong friends. I can’t count the number of people, both young and old, who told me that the fair acts as a sort of reunion for them. They may not see each other much throughout the year, but when fair week rolls around every July current and past 4-H’ers know they’ll get the chance to catch up.

Past 4-H’ers spend the week reminiscing on their time at the fair. I heard many stories that I was asked never to put in print — including stories of a time when having fewer chaperones in the animal barns inspired mischievous young 4-H’ers to use their freedom in creative ways. To be honest, I’m a little impressed by their ingenuity.

The fair continues to be a place for children to learn and experience new things. Dozens of small children showed animals this past week, sometimes leading animals more than twice their size. This didn’t seem to faze the kids, though. They continued, patient and coaxing, if their animals became stubborn. The children’s eyes lit up around their animals and as they spoke about them, their enthusiasm grew even more. I was told the animals’ names and how the kids care for them, and I even was high-fived by a child in a celebratory moment at the goat show.

There’s a part of me that wishes I would have continued in 4-H. Maybe then I would have memories of my own to share instead of hearing stories from others. Spending time at the fair as I covered it for The Herald this past week has given me only a tiny sliver of the 4-H experience, but it’s one that I’m glad to have gotten.

Contact April Dittmer at newsintern@dcherald.com.

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