CUMBERLAND — After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of last year’s Allegany County Fair, local 4-H members realized how important the annual event had been to their lives, families and community, Lacie Ashby said.
Although several 4-H activities were held virtually, including a robotics challenge, cupcake wars, pumpkin carving contest and horse competition, members missed the camaraderie the fair typically provides.
“Absence made the heart grow fonder, I think,” Ashby, 4-H educator and senior agent at the University of Maryland Extension in Allegany County, said.
In the spring, the pandemic brought about uncertainties that caused late planning for 4-H events at the fair, she said.
Despite rushed preparations, this year’s fair includes a wide variety of 4-H events.
“Everyone is happy to be with each other again, sharing stories of the past and looking forward to the future fairs to come,” Ashby said.
“Our 4-H members love sharing their projects with the community and sharing their knowledge with others,” she said. “Although much of what is seen is friendly competition, it develops friendships along the way and a strong sense of community.”
Morgantown, West Virginia, resident Hope Pell, 11, is in the Mountain and Valley 4-H Livestock Club.
She’s exhibiting goats and a lamb for the first time at the fair.
“I’m excited. I like it so far,” she said during Tuesday’s hot temperatures. “Sometimes it wears you out.”
Her aunt, Jo Ann Flinn, has a farm in Burlington, West Virginia, where she teaches Hope how to care for the animals.
“It’s really fun because (Hope) is new at it,” Flinn said. “She likes agriculture. She does not sit in front of the TV. She’s more active with nature and outdoors.”
Bedford, Pennsylvania, resident Madison Smith, 12, has exhibited animals at the past four county fairs.
On Tuesday, she competed in a rabbit show and won Grand Champion Overall and Best of Show ribbons.
“I really like it,” she said of 4-H and the fair. “It’s very educational and it’s also fun at the same time.”
Her mom, Sara Kovach, was in 4-H when she was a kid.
“It taught me responsibility and a love for animals,” she said and encourages folks to join 4-H.
“Our clubs are always accepting new members,” Kovach said. “It’s definitely a community of family and friends.”
To learn more, call Ashby at 301-724-3320 or email email@example.com.