JVG_200616_WILLIAMS_01

Dakota Day, of Plymouth 4-H, takes a short rest draped over his cow’s back during barn duties for his club during the 2019 Rock County 4-H Fair.

JANESVILLE

It is a sad day for me as a lifetime 4-H'er to learn that the Rock County 4-H Fair was cancelled. I am not disappointed for myself but for the outstanding 4-H and FFA kids who have spent countless hours getting ready and looking forward to the fair.

As I see images of the packed bars, shoulder-to-shoulder people at beaches and the block-long stretch of people at many of the stores, it seems to me the Rock County Board could have allowed the use of the fairgrounds for a week to host a modified fair.

Many of you will be quick to criticize the Rock County Fair Board for making the decision to cancel the fair. The blame should not be placed on them; I know first-hand they met regularly for many hours and worked with the health department for approval to come up with a workable solution to allow the youth to still exhibit.

Ultimately, the decision was made for them when Rock County decided the fair board could not utilize any of the buildings or land on the fairgrounds west of the the grandstand area. With limited grounds, it was not feasible to offer the safe environment for the youth and others that would need to support a modified fair.

I have been involved with the Rock County 4-H Fair in some capacity for over 40 years and before that in Green County for a total of over 75 years of participating or supporting county fairs.

I am the current superintendent of the garden and fruit department. Each year, our department donates a very large number of the vegetable entries to various charities at the end of the fair. This year, while the youth may not be able to bring in their prize-winning entries or get a ribbon for all their hard work, I still encourage them to donate to any one of the local food pantries or charities in the area. This would be an excellent learning opportunity for our youth to show that even out of great disappointment of not being able to show at the fair that their hard work would go to supporting those in need.

The fair is not about winning and showing, it is about learning and growing, including life skills and dealing with disappointment in a positive manner.

I truly understand how disappointed everyone is about not having a fair, but let's look forward to next year and work together to make the 2021 Rock County 4-H Fair bigger and better than ever.

Al Williams is the garden and fruit superintendent with the Rock County 4-H Fair. He has been involved in county fairs for more than 75 years.

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