THE NEWS JOURNAL
For a tradition to continue, younger generations must carry on its legacy.
Luckily for Delaware State Fair attendees, members of statewide 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs aim to preserve the fair’s agricultural activities – a tradition they say is worth keeping.
The Centre, a former ice skating rink nestled in the hub of the State Fair, resembled a bazaar on Monday for a 4-H and Future Farmers of America exhibition. Judges examined posters explaining everything from hydroelectric energy to the digestive tracts of cows, along with textiles, crafts, dioramas and homegrown vegetables.
Woodbridge High School’s Future Farmers of America chapter from Greenwood won first place in a Landscape Display competition for their lifesized diorama of “A July Tradition,” this year’s fair theme. The scene featured a spinning wooden Ferris wheel carrying potted plants.
Brooklyn Williams, vice president of the FFA chapter, said the Ferris wheel symbolizes a traditional fair, in keeping with the theme. She said constructing the Ferris wheel was the longest process in crafting the display.
“We wanted to have something big enough in size that it was appealing to the eye, but didn’t take up too much space in our display,” Williams said.
Williams said the process reflected her FFA experience, which involved working alongside others, learning their strengths and weaknesses and using small, fragmented pieces to create something greater.
FFA and 4-H chapters are longstanding staples of rural Delaware communities. The state boasts 60,000 youth 4H’ers and 12,160 future farmers, according to each organization’s website.
Members of the Delaware 4-H State Teen Council also promoted their organization at Monday’s exhibition. The members, representing all three counties, noted the impact 4-H has had on them throughout their high school careers.
Council president Lena Berry, of Kent County, said there is more to 4-H than planting crops and feeding livestock.
“It always has the stereotype of farming, but it also really focuses on healthy living and STEM,” Berry said.
Kent County representative Hannah O’Hara noted her chapter specializes in archery and shooting sports – activities not typically associated with 4-H clubs. Sussex County representative Jenna Anger added members acquire public speaking and other communication skills from the club by giving demonstrationsat expositions.“It’s all the life lessons school won’t teach you,” O’Hara said.
For social media coordinator AndrewShaffer of New Castle County, it’s about the camaraderie; all of his best friends are in 4-H. Vice President Shawn Mitchell, of Sussex County, went even further, calling the Delaware 4-H network “family.”
Wilmington native and Porter Gang 4-H club member Ava Raudhley, 11, sews and felts wool skirts, pocketbooks and scarves for the State Fair’s annual Wood Lead Line competition, which was held Sunday. Exhibitors compete by displaying the best quality wool outfit and coordinating wool sheep, according to the fair’s website.
At Monday’s 4-H and FFA Exhibition, Raudhley demonstrated how to make wool outfits, train sheep and model for the judges.
Raudhley has competed since she was 5 years old, modeling garments she fashioned with wool from her grandparents’sheep. She said the most difficult part of the competition is training the sheep.
“It obviously does not want to walk, so you have to put it on a halter, walk it around and get it used to that feeling,” she said.
While Raudhley said the annual experience has taught her practical life skills, such as how to sew. It has also shown her how to present herself in front of an audience.
For fellow Wilmington native Robina Phipps and her two children, Sydney and Liam, displaying their 18 sheep to State Fair attendees is a family affair. Sydney and Liam belong to the New Castle County 4-H Club.
Sydney said her 4-H membership allows her to connect to a larger community focused on helping out one another. Liam said he enjoys learning about the different breeds of sheep; Dorpers are his favorites.
“It’s a great way to get the kids experience with animals, see how the food system works, how to raise them,” Robina said. “It gives them more of an appreciation.”
Contact Caitie Burkes at firstname.lastname@example.org, (985) 640-2526 or on Twitter @caitie1221.
Families walk through the exhibit inside the Centre Ice Rink at the Delaware State Fair.
PHOTOS BY SUCHAT PEDERSON/THE NEWS JOURNAL
Caden Allaband, 9, of Camden, sheers a sheep for the first time at the Delaware State Fair.