With fair season coming up, young people throughout the area are learning new skills and preparing for county fairs today and in the future.

Sarah Townley, 4-H youth program associate for the Jasper County Extension office, said the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented young people from gathering at one of their favorite camps, Camp Smokey at Roaring River, for their annual 4-H summer camps for the second straight year. Area extension offices had to improvise to provide something of a camping opportunity for kids.

Last year, when the pandemic was raging, all summer 4-H activities were held virtually, but this year, extension office leaders decided to hold four local day camps. The first one was held last week at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in Carthage and was called the Show Me Your Animals 4-H Day Camp.

“Monday, we had the 5- to 7-year-old age group, so we didn’t do horses with them; we covered showing dogs,” Townley said. “We did animal crafts like pool-noodle horses, and we did a showdeo with our pool-noodle horses. Then we had the 8- to 12-year-old age group, and we did some similar stuff with them. ... We had the 13- to 18-year-olds, so we spent a lot more time out here teaching them about judging some different animals. We’ve done sheep, we’ve done dairy cattle, now we’re doing horses, and the kids are also learning about showmanship.”

Townley said the other day camps will be held in the coming weeks in Marshfield, Dogwood Canyon in Lampe, and in Aurora. Signups for the camps are already closed.

Townley said the camps can help prepare for this year’s Jasper County Youth Fair, but the focus of the camps is on introducing the campers to things that they might become interested in and use at future youth fairs.

“Maybe they haven’t handled a dairy cow before, and maybe they like it, and maybe they want to show dairy cows in the future,” Townley said. “Same with horses or lambs or the others. There’s also exposing the kids to the K-9 search and rescue; maybe they didn’t know that was a career option or something they could volunteer with.”

County fair season

County fairs and other youth fairs are held across the area throughout the summer. In this area:

The Newton County Fair is scheduled for July 9-11 at the Newton County Fairgrounds, 700 Field Ave. in Neosho.

The Jasper County Youth Fair is slated for July 9-17 at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in Municipal Park in Carthage.

The McDonald County Fair is slated for July 16-18 at the McDonald County Fairgrounds in Anderson.

The Cherokee County (Kansas) Fair is slated for July 20-24 at 100 E. Country Road in Columbus.

The Crawford County (Kansas) Fair is slated for Aug. 1-7 at the Crawford County Fairgrounds, 249 E. Highway 47 in Girard.

The Ottawa County (Oklahoma) Free Fair will be held Aug. 14-21 at the Miami Fairgrounds, 1129 E St. SW in Miami.

The Lamar Free Fair will be held from Aug. 21-28 on the square in Lamar.

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