Since I spent the majority of today's visit to the Indiana State Fair in the 4-H Exhibit Buildings, it is a good time to pick up where we left off
in our Indiana 4-H history lesson.
4-H was still flourishing in Indiana in the 1970s, with an emphasis on individual members growth and an effort to offer programming to all Indiana youth, not just traditional club members.
Things began to change in the 80s. Federal support was cut while 4-H continued to reach out to even more Indiana young people. New programs were added to keep pace with that was happening in the world. Computer workshops and science topics were popular due to two Hoosier 4-H alumni astronauts, Colonel Jerry Rice and Captain Donald Williams.
Later in the decade each county took a hard look at their programs to make sure they were keeping pace. The 4-H mission of youth development through educational programs and projects was found to still be helpful, even with all of the societal changes. Too be continued.....
The 4-H Exhibit Hall and Boys and Girls Dormitory were build in 1939. The dorms provided a place for the young exhibitors to stay onsite and included school rooms so the students wouldn't lose any school time. The Exhibit Hall was built as space for the culinary, arts, and crafts exhibits.
The buildings are styled in the Art Deco theme. During World War II, when many fairgrounds buildings were used by the Army as a supply and marshaling center, these buildings were used as barracks. The two dorms fell into great disrepair - I remember them being boarded up when I would visit the Fairgrounds in the 90s. The were renovated in 2004.
Now the Boys Dormitory and the Exhibit Hall house all of the non-animal 4-H projects. The projects that are displayed at the State Fair have won champion in their division in their county.
In 4-H blue ribbons are awarded to top-notch work, a red for the next level down, and a white generally means that it was missing a critical part of the project. You'll also see purple championship ribbons and a orange extra-merit one.
In open show competitions ribbons are generally given for 1st - 4th place (blue, red, white, pink).
There were lots of fun cakes this year. You can smell the sugar when you descend the steps to the basement of the Boys Dorm.
I'm sure I'll be looking at the woodworking projects more closely when Dad and I go to the Fair next week — I swear they put up the "no touching" signs with him in mind —not that it stops him.
As a side note, I'm noticing more diversity at the Fair this year and am enjoying it.
10:00 AM & 4:00 PMRooster Crowing Contest [Rabbit and Poultry Building]
2:00 PM Live Chats in the Glass Barn [um, Glass Barn]
2:00 PM White River Jazz Band [Pioneer Village stage]
6:30 PM Parade [Main Street]
7:30 PM Wallflowers [Free Stage]
8:00 PM Blue Monkey Side Show [Main Street Stage]
Nora Spitznogle can still recite the 4-H pledge by heart and is an unabashed Indiana State Fair geek. She hasn't missed a single day of the Fair in over a decade and the stack of ribbons from entering baking competitions and ugly lamp contests in the Open Show are among her prized possessions.