OTTUMWA — While much of Wapello County 4-H Expo will remain similar to previous years, there’s a couple of things that have changed at the event that gets underway next week.
One is a schedule change. While the royalty pageant has traditionally been held on a Monday night, it has been moved to Sunday this year. “With static project judging and animal check-in also on Mondays, it got to be so chaotic we decided to split them,” said Cindy Emery, 4-H youth coordinator.
The pageant gets under way at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Wapello County Expo Grounds, 13011 120th Ave., with more than 30 candidates vying for crowns across four age groups, which Emery said was on the high end of candidates they typically see.
“It just keeps growing every year,” she said.
This will be the third year the Expo has been held on the grounds. “It’s been amazing,” Emery said. “And this year, we have a new building so it will be even better. All the animals will be under a roof rather than in a tent.”
The Expo, with public event running Wednesday through Saturday, features animal shows each day. Emery said there are around 65-70 kids showing animal projects this year.
The static projects are a different story. She said they won’t know until Monday how many there will be. That’s when projects will be checked in a judged. “There’s probably close to 200 kids that will be showing projects,” Emery estimated.
She stressed the shift in the populace of 4-H over the year, too. “There’s still a perception that you have to have an animal to be in 4-H,” she said, which is no longer the case. “The majority of our kids now are town kids and don’t have animals. Photography, woodworking, any interest you have, 4-H Extension has something they can provide you.”
There’s even events open to the public. Emery said there will be free crafts, games and activities going on all throughout the week. The 4-H clubs will offer breakfast and lunch every day with the 4-H board serving dinner, and Paint and Canvas activities will be held each day as well. Access to the grounds are free, Emery said, and only a few of the activities have a cost attached.
There’s even couple of chances for the public to try there luck with judging. A “bake-a-licious contest runs at 5:30 p.m. with a dip contest set for 5:30 p.m. Friday. Both are open to public entries.
If you not involved in 4-H, Emery encourages you to come out and see what the program has to offer.
“These kids have put in a lot of hard work throughout the year. There’s a lot of amazing projects to come out and see,” she said. “If they want to get their children involved, now is the time to see what’s available, not only with 4-H but with the other programs the Extension offers.”
Features Editor Tracy Goldizen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CourierTracy