ALEXANDRIA – The Madison County 4-H Fair’s return to live events with spectators was deemed a success by organizers even as they pledged to iron out a few minor glitches that cropped up during the week.
The fair wrapped up over the weekend with judging in the llama and alpaca shows, as well as continued competition in the Horse and Pony Show. Although temperatures in the high 80s kept crowds smaller than normal on Saturday afternoon, food vendors continued to do brisk business and the midway at Beulah Park bustled with activity.
“We’re thankful to have a live event, and that the public got to come,” said Beth Vansickle, an extension educator for 4-H specializing in agriculture and natural resources. “There were some changes in the schedule and we’re working through those. They did a great job to make sure all the livestock was here – they were just here on different days, but they were here all week.”
Officials said meetings will take place soon after the fair’s conclusion to allow supervisors overseeing various animal categories to voice their opinions on ideas that worked well and those that didn’t. A nearly certain topic of discussion is likely to be a change in scheduling to spread out showings and individual judging of individual livestock species. The move was meant to ease logistical pressure on 4-H members showing more than one animal as well as being a precautionary measure against the potential spread of COVID-19.
“I think Thursday it probably would have been nice to have a few more animals here on site because we happened to have some animals come and go as their judging happened,” said Bill Decker, 4-H Youth Development Coordinator. “With some kids so young not being able to get the (COVID) shot yet, you don’t want to have 500 kids camping out here all week.”
Decker said that as the country continues to emerge from the pandemic and residents put COVID-related concerns further behind them, next year’s fair should be even closer to normal.
In what Decker called “a COVID recovery year,” organizers spent time during the week monitoring programming changes with an eye toward further improvements.
“Every time there’s a change, it’s just learning the pluses and minuses,” Vansickle said. “For the most part, we’ve had a great fair. It’s run smoothly, and they’ll all come together and figure out what worked the best and what didn’t, and we’ll go from there.”