Even in 2017, the beef show at the Reno County Fair on Sunday looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with well-dressed 4-H members guiding their animals to show judges.

But by no means is the fair stuck in the past. The popularity of different events changes year-to-year, and 4-H and Kansas State University Research and Extension work to adapt to those changes, 4-H Youth Development Agent Joan Krumme said.

For example, she said the horse project has been rebounding following a bit of a decline in popularity, and this year’s fair added a ranch rodeo to capitalize on and in turn help support that resurgence. And Krumme said the ranch rodeo, which had three events for adults plus mutton busting for kids, drew a good audience.

Under-the-radar events

Krumme said she wished the poultry and rabbit projects got more recognition. They usually have good numbers of exhibitors and entries – this year it took two judges a full day to judge 160 rabbits – but they are often overlooked. She said that might be because they are smaller and lack the arena shows that beef, swine, goats and sheep have.

Kaitlyn Graham, a member of Mitchell 4-H Club, shows giant homer pigeons and an assortment of chickens. She said she has been involved with showing poultry her whole life thanks to her family. Her grandpa was the one who developed her interest in chickens, and her uncles used to raise racing pigeons, she said.

“I like that not a lot of people do it, and that they’re all so unique, the birds,” she said of showing pigeons.

She said the temporary ban on poultry shows in 2015 in response to bird flu concerns dampened her passion. When it was lifted, though, it was a relief, and she was excited to get back to showing her birds. 

Fair and 4-H by the numbers

More than 2,000: The number of entries in 4-H exhibits at the fair Nine: 4-H community clubs in Reno County Two: 4-H project clubs 349: Reno County 4-H members 7 to 18: Age range for 4-H members, and some can even be 19, depending on their birthday 5-6: Age range for Cloverbuds, an affiliated group that serves as a lead-in to 4-H