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Jefferson County Fair discussed by Board of Education

By Toni Milbourne - For the Chronicle | Aug 13, 2021

FFA and 4-H members, such as the one pictured here, can exhibit and show livestock at the Jefferson County Fair this month. These exhibits are one of many ways students can be involved at the fair, as was outlined by members of Washington High’s FFA chapter to the Jefferson County Board of Education Monday evening. Toni Milbourne

CHARLES TOWN — Members of the Washington High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) gave a presentation Monday evening to the Jefferson County Board of Education on the importance of the Jefferson County Fair to their members, as well as other students and staff of the Jefferson County School System.

Several students shared their thoughts on how students participate in the fair in a number of ways.

Hannah Burch, president of the school’s FFA chapter, explained the process of record-keeping for livestock animals, whether it be through FFA or 4-H. She said the young people who exhibit animals at the fair must keep records, not only for the week, but more importantly, for the entire time they spend raising the animal for show.

In addition to animals, students exhibit in a variety of other capacities, including crafts, photography and cooking. Projects are brought to the fairgrounds the Saturday before opening day and are judged, garnering the one who enters ribbons and cash prizes.

Other activities in which students participate at the fair, include band and choir concerts. It was shared that the fair is often the first performance for these groups after summer practices. Middle school and high school musicians are welcomed to the stage on various nights, sharing what they have learned as they head into the new school year.

The annual bake auction held at the fair each year allows FFA, FCCLA and 4-H groups to raise funds for their groups, by providing baked goods to be sold at the auction. Prior to the auction, students visit local businesses to make them aware of their offerings and invite them to come bid.

Washington High School staffer Katlin Grantham said that during the 2019 bake auction, which was the most recent fair, clubs were able to raise $35,600 for their baked goods.

Along with the bake auction, those who raise livestock may also choose to participate in the annual livestock sale at the end of the fair, where they sell their animal to the highest bidder. The process works in much the same way as with the bake auction, as students inform local businesses they will sell their animals. At the 2019 fair, just over $174,000 was spent on animals at the livestock sale.

Various other groups and clubs also gather at the fair to raise funds. Some are regulars each year, including the Jefferson High School softball team’s dunk tank and the JHS baseball team’s pitching booth.

While students certainly can participate in any number of fair week activities, adults can participate as well. Exhibits in a variety of categories are open to adult competitors, who can win ribbons and prize money. Many staffers in the school system serve as judges at the fair or as superintendents and assistants in the various departments, helping sort and display the exhibits.

The students spoke at the meeting, with the hope to share what makes the fair special to them, as well as how it serves as a learning experience outside of the classroom. The Jefferson County Fair is scheduled to be held from Aug. 22-28. To learn more, visit http://www.jeffersoncountyfairwv.org/.