By Dawn M Chiossi
But when the annual Morris County 4-H Fair rolls around, with approximately anywhere from 15 to 20 thousand people attending, that secret is definitely out of the bag.
Taking place on July 18 through 21st at Chubb Park in Chester, the Morris County 4-H Fair will be held for 4 days. There’s something wonderfully homespun and old fashioned about a 4-H Fair, and it’s not just for those in rural communities any more.
The fair will be sponsored by the Morris County 4-H Association in support of the 4-H Youth Development Program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension.
As well as providing summer fun, this summer staple also showcases the vast achievements of the Morris County 4-H members ranging in age from those in kindergarten all the way up to one year after high school.
Dedicated to “making the best better,” as their motto suggests, 4-H is a United States based youth network of organizations whose mission is to engage youths into reaching their fullest potential. Through the program, kids learn about projects that they are interested in, work with mentors, and participate in community service projects.
And that’s what makes a 4-H Fair different and special compared to other standard fairs. It’s a chance to share in and celebrate the kids and their accomplishments. People can see with their own eyes their hard work and devotion that goes into their projects: From goat races, to goat agility courses, to dog shows (including seeing eye dogs), to chickens, rabbits, small animals and more.
Animals are only part of it however, there’s also sports oriented showcases, science, crafts and exhibitions, clothing and textiles, needlework, cooking, baking, vegetables and flowers, everything that can even extend to poetry, pictures, creative writing, and art work. Murarik even discloses that there will be a wood carver, and a beekeeping demonstration where they can sell honey.
“It’s whatever you can think of,” she enthuses. “With 4-H, there’s no limit.”
After showing their accomplishments, there will be judging (for the older members) and they will win prizes.
4-H is a definite learn by doing approach, and as such it boosts and empowers its members to become competent and caring adults, preparing them for the world. Through the works of 4-H, it gives them the knowledge, attitudes, skills and tools they need to make a contribution to community and the world at large.
Warm and enthusiastic regarding the organization, Murarik, has been with the Morris County 4-H Fair since it began at Chubb Park in 1984.
She relates that before then, the fair was just more like an expo, something that took place inside at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall. But once people discovered all of the fun they could have at this event, it was ultimately moved to its outdoor location of Chester’s Chubb Park– expanding from two days to its current four.
“Our fair is still very small compared to other 4-H Fairs out there, with approximately 10 tents so far,” Murarik remarks. “It’s big, but it’s not humongous. It is filled with all sorts of unique things and amusements. It’s very workable to see everything easily,” she tells.
In addition to the project animal shows, the fair will have rides and amusements, fun and games, live music, performances and demonstrations, pony rides, hay rides, petting zoos, a cake decorating contest, watermelon eating contest, dress-a-pet contest, and a craft sale table.
Of course, like any summer fair, there will be lots of food to tempt the appetite including foods like barbecue, a food sale table, and much more.
Attendees won’t want to miss the Friday evening fireworks show (with a rain date of Saturday) or the Saturday hot air balloon rides and tricky tray.
There is no fee for the fair, but there is a $5.00 donation for parking and $10.00 donation for fireworks.
Whether people attend just one day, or every day, there will be much to see and enjoy, and Murarik is elated. Keeping her fingers crossed for good weather, not just for the fair, but for the hot air balloon ride, it has a special place in her heart. Having taken one in the past, she can barely contain her anticipation to take one again this year.
She describes the balloon as tethered and rising to about 50 to 75 feet. “It’s intense, loud and hot and you are right there. It’s such a unique experience. I love it,” she enthuses.
And very quickly Murarik’s mind circles back to the members of 4-H. When she describes how their opening ceremonies showcase the clubs, participants, banners and flags, it’s almost like a parade where they introduce everyone, and remarks are made. Best of all, it gets everyone excited for the festivities yet to come.
The Morris County 4-H Fair is not just a good time, it is a culmination of everything that the members have learned from the club, Murarik explains. “They run it all. This is all about having the members take on leadership roles (such as running a business and public speaking) and having them be responsible. 4-H teaches them so much: Confidence in leadership and citizenship, empowering them. I’ve seen 4-H turn kids from a shy youngster into amazing leaders.”