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Houston County offers 4-H Showcase for youth

Kaitlyn Riley

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Image by Innviertlerin from Pixabay

It was not what Houston County 4-H anticipated when preparing to celebrate its centennial in 2020, but University of Minnesota Extension, volunteers, and families came together to organize a 4-H Showcase for youth.

The show will run Aug. 15-21 with a schedule that spaces out species throughout the week. Animals will go home the same day they arrive for a show.

“This will help prevent a large number of people from being at the fairgrounds at the same time because we are following hose health guidelines,” Rebecca Paulson, 4-H youth development extension educator said. “Otherwise, it is going to be as normal as possible.”

Exhibitors and families at the showcase will have temperatures taken before entering. Surfaces will be sanitized throughout the day, and there will be a mask requirement. They will allow a maximum of 250 people on the grounds.

“We are making sure this is going to be a safe environment for everybody,” Paulson said.

Family and friends who want to see the show from home can view a live-stream of the event. A YouTube link will primarily be shared with family, but Paulson said updates will also be posted on Facebook.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this before,” Paulson said. “It is a great way to give youth that opportunity to come in and showcase their projects.”

Despite the challenges of 2020, exhibitors proved strong interest in the showcase. Swine is one of the county’s most competitive show categories. A typical fair sees 160 head, and 120 are signed up for the showcase. The sheep show is small than normal dropping for typical numbers of 50 to around 30.

“We have a strong livestock presence here in Houston County, and everybody is excited to have the opportunity to be showing their animals in person,” Paulson said.

Non-livestock judging will be completed virtually. Houston County had a trial run in April with a successful cake decorating contest. Judges will look at uploaded photos of the project ahead of time, and then will offer one-on-one conversations and feedback for youth.

Volunteers are still welcome to help make the 2020 Houston County 4-H Showcase possible. Anyone interested can contact the extension office at 507-725-5807.

Kaitlyn Riley’s passion for communications started on her family’s dairy farm in Gays Mills, Wis. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club while volunteering as a news reporter for the college radio station. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. In her professional career, Kaitlyn has worked in radio, print and television news doing everything from covering local events to interviewing presidential candidates, and putting back on her barn boots to chat with farmers in the field. Today, Kaitlyn can be seen covering local stories that matter to you in the La Crosse area.