DUNKIRK – The Chautauqua County Fair is back, and perhaps one of the most popular attractions for kids and adults alike is the assortment of livestock available for visitors to see.
The cows, chickens, pigs, goats, and rabbits you see at the fairgrounds are all raised by youth in our region as a part of the 4-H program.
The 4-H program aims to empower young people through several different skill-building activities. It reaches millions of kids around the nation, elementary to high school, including right here in Chautauqua County.
Everett Lebarron, a student in the poultry project, spent countless hours preparing for the fair.
“It is our big event of the year,” Lebarron said. “It takes a few weeks, 2 to 3 weeks to get ready for the fair. That doesn’t include watching the animals, it just includes getting crafts and stuff like that ready.”
Organizers say it’s more than just raising an animal and showing it off, though. Those who take part gain valuable, real-world skills and experience through the program.
“I’ve been able to see how many children in the community actually benefit from 4-H from all ages,” Michelle Cresanti, a parent and member of the poultry committee, explained. “They begin at 4, and they can graduate at 18. Throughout that entire time they’re involved, they are constantly improving on communication skills, knowledge, empathy, and of course their experience with agriculture which benefits the entire community for future generations.”
Students like Junior Supervisor Genevieve Smith agree that the time spent working on the project helps bring opportunities in the future.
“It teaches children how to be responsible and respectful,” Smith told me. “Especially for our younger children, our ‘cloverbuds’, it has a great program for them to grow up. It looks really good for colleges because it shows responsibility.”
If you visit the fair this week, and would like to make a contribution to the project, organizers are holding a basket raffle in the poultry barn to benefit the 4-H program, one of the many activities in our area helping kids grow.