DUTCHESS CO., N.Y. — 251 4-H youth entered 1864 classes at the 2022 Dutchess County Fair. It is exciting that the dairy cattle program is flourishing with 34 youth entering a multitude of classes. Both dairy goats and hogs saw 32 individual entries, while 30 youth entered sheep showmanship. Poultry, rabbits, beef, and llama/alpaca were also well represented. The Dutchess County Youth Livestock Sale took place on the afternoon of Saturday 27th. Thanks to a packed house of generous buyers, bidding was competitive and a full catalogue of poultry, lambs, hogs, goats, and beef sold well. Hog numbers especially were the highest for several years. An addition to the sale this year was the auction of a beautiful quilt made up of past LVS tee shirts, stitched by long-time 4-H supporter Sandy Hicks, which raised $1500 for the 4-H Livestock Sale Scholarship Fund. This year, six 4-H alumni (previous sale particiapnts) received substantial awards to help cover the costs of college in agriculture-related fields of study.
Professional Development and Leadership classes attracted 35 entries in activities such as Flag Bearer (where we call attention to the opening of the fair as the Anthem plays), and junior evaluators who help judge Exhibit Hall entries. A further 9 youth worked in the cafeteria over 6 mornings, helping provide a home-cooked, affordable breakfast for those on the fairgrounds prior to its’ opening. Entries in the 4-H Exhibit Hall were up over 2021 as youth took the opportunity to enter arts, science, and craft projects. The quality was high; over 60 items were selected to progress to the NY State Fair. The majority of exhibits were awarded blue ribbons with approximately 15% being designated as outstanding.
The 4-H Flourishing Farmers Club is now our official name for the ag-based program which embraces and supports youth who need special accommodations. This year saw an increase in membership from 16 to 21 youth, 13 of whom participated at the fair. A partnership with the Dutchess County ThinkDIFFERNTLY initiative, County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Gregg Pulver took pride in presenting ribbons and medals to these extraordinary young people.
On June 5th, 2022, the 4-H community came together to host the “A-Fair to Remember” Gala at Millbrook Winery. Funds raised were pledged to support the youth in our program and provide opportunities for less fortunate youth. Thanks to incredible support from sponsors, donors and volunteers, in 2022 we were able to waive all fees associated with exhibiting at the fair for every one of our 4-H’ers. The A-Fair gala also sparked a partnership with the Dutchess Land Conservancy which resulted in 22 4-H’er receiving scholarships to help cover fair-related costs. And over 40 children from immigrant and low-income families signed up to join 4-H for their first ever day at the fair. With 4-H Educator Allie Jeffrey, they toured Livestock Hill to learn about agriculture before enjoying the rest of the fair, followed by lunch and a milkshake from the Dutchess County Dairy Committee booth! We are so very grateful to have the support of the Dutchess County Agricultural Society and our community. We feel blessed to be able to offer such life-shaping opportunities to such a diverse group of youth – 4-H really is growing in Dutchess County.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County