Sioux Center—Sioux County 4-Hers and FFA members can still look forward to showing their hard work at the Sioux County Youth Fair mid-July.
Scheduled for July 14-16, this year’s fair will look different, however, as the Sioux County Youth Fair Board and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and FFA made changes to protect participants and their families from the potential spread of the coronavirus at the fairgrounds.
“We are 100 percent committed to getting our kids to exhibition,” said Katie Moyer, the Sioux County 4-H youth coordinator for the Iowa State University Extension Services.
But to make that happen meant changes had to be made, mostly with social distancing in mind. The changes were announced last Wednesday with a video posted on YouTube and shared on the Facebook pages of the Sioux County Youth Fair and Sioux County 4-H.
It’s uncertain if, by the time the fair comes July 14, the general public will be able to attend or not.
A lot can change in the coming weeks, Moyer said, so no final word on the matter has been given. She recommended people follow the Facebook pages to get any updates.
That being said, entertainment and activities for the general public have been canceled to reduce crowds; there will be no rodeo, greased pig competition or entertainers at the fair this year.
“It’s going to be 100 percent 4-H and FFA exhibition shows or achievement shows this year,” Moyer said.
Static exhibits will be shown in a state fair style.
“That means the exhibits will be dropped off with their goal sheets which are their write-ups describing how they did it, what their goals were, what they learned and things like that,” Moyer said.
Projects will then be scored the next day, and the judges will not meet face-to-face with the youths.
“We’re just trying to protect our judges in that case because they would have a lot of contact with a lot of different kids,” she said.
Workshops will be held to help 4-Hers prepare their goal sheets.
Communications projects will still have youths present face-to-face with a judge, but the audience will be limited to family members, who will leave once their child has finished.
Details on how fashion projects will be shown and judged are still being worked out.
Livestock shows will remain face-to-face with youth and judges, but they will be done in a show-and-go style.
“The gist is that a specific animal will come in on the day of the show, get checked in and then they’ll show, exhibit their animal and then leave the same day,” Moyer said. “It won’t be like a traditional fair where the animals all stay on the fairgrounds for the whole four to five days. Instead, they will only be coming for the show that they are in.”
She added they might have to encourage families to stand farther apart along the fence and in stands, but the main idea is to give the 4-H and FFA youth as close to a normal county fair experience as possible with the existing state guidelines in place.
Discussion on other ways to limit the number of families and 4-Hers at the fairgrounds at a given time are still ongoing.
Moyer said with so many of these projects taking months of preparation, “This isn’t just one week of the year, but this is their showcase opportunity, which is why we are so passionate about making sure they get to that showcase.”
Eighteen-year-old Aimee Hulstein of Sioux Center has been a member of FFA for four years and 4-H for 10 years, and at the 2019 Sioux County Youth Fair, she was crowned the Sioux County Fair Queen.
She likes to do static exhibits for the fair, focusing on sewing and needle arts as well as photography.
“Home improvement, family and consumer science, those are the ones I stick with,” Hulstein said. “I’ve also shown rabbits and hogs at the fair, and that’s for both 4-H and FFA.”
She’s getting started soon on some sewing projects and her pigs have been tagged.
As the Sioux County Fair Queen, Hulstein is supposed to hand out ribbons and be at the fairgrounds during the fair week to help promote it. There are also a number of activities she takes part in, such as various parades.
Of course, because of the coronavirus, she said a lot of those things have been canceled, but she has gotten to enjoy her tenure with some celebrations such as a parade in Hawarden earlier in the year and the Sioux Center homecoming parade.
The announcement of the planned changes to the fair is welcome to the alternative, she said.
“It makes us look more forward to the 2021 fair,” Hulstein said, “but they’re all doing their best. I know other fairs have been canceled completely, so I’m proud our leadership teams have done the best they can in this situation and let the 4-Hers still exhibit their projects.”