(Publisher’s note. I was a 4-H member and have been a judge at the Washtenaw County 4-H Youth Show and other county 4-H shows for many years. The last five years I’ve judged the fun food classes. This year I judged the cupcake class.)
Most youth showing at this year’s 4-H Youth Show at the Farm Council Grounds will tell you that this week each July is the highlight of their summer.
It’s a time when they see their friends and show their animals and still projects, and take home ribbons, trophies and premium money.
“It’s a week to show your animals against everyone else, see old friends and make money,” said Grant Bater, 16, of Lima Township.
He and his sister, Shannon, show goats, pigs, a feeder calf, a turkey and pheasants and planned to sell them in the youth auction at the end of the week.
“You meet a lot of people and make new friends and get to stay and sleep in the barns,” Grant Bater said.
“The Youth Show provides an opportunity for 4-H members to showcase their hard work throughout the year,” said Jackie Martin, 4–H Youth Extension Educator. “4-H members spend a great deal of time on 4-H projects, from perfecting recipes, to raising animals, or practicing public speaking.”
Martin said, “The Youth Show is the highlight of their 4-H experience for many youth, and we encourage the public to come out and see what they’ve been up to.”
But, there are also a number of fun classes, such as a chocolate chip cookie contest and a cupcake contest where 16 youth baked and entered a variety of chocolate chip cookies and 18 entered homemade cupcakes. They took home certificates for categories such as best presentation, judge’s choice, and best tasting.
And, for two young 4-Hers, Madison and Bailey Welshans of Lima Township, this year’s 4-H Youth Show is all of those things but it’s also bittersweet because of a terrible fire that raged through the family’s 100-year-old barn, and more than a hundred of their small animals perished.
It’s only through the kindness of others that the sisters had rabbits and chickens to show at the 4-H show this year.
Word spread quickly of the Welshans devastating situation and the American Rabbit Breeders Association community rallied to help the girls. Show rabbits began arriving from across the county. And from down the street.
Robin Welshans, the girls’ mom, said one the their neighbors, Doug Madaras raises Heritage breeds and gave the girls American Chinchilla rabbits, which took reserve champion meat pen.
Pierce, a Holland Lop bunny, and a special carrier for the rabbit’s transport was donated to Bailey Welshans by Sarah Dombroske, who lives in Northern Michigan.
“She cried when she gave Bailey this bunny; he was a special one to her,” Robin Welshans said.
And it gets even better, Baily also took champion meat pen with her donated Californian bunnies, plus, her cow calf was named supreme champion cow.
The girl’s chickens took champion and reserve champion poultry production pen and Baily won champion pair.
Although the girls will have wonderful memories, lots of ribbons and trophies to take home, the family is still rebuilding their lives following the fire.
Robin Welshans said next week the last remnants of the barn will be covered over so perhaps this will help them move forward without the visual reminder of the fire.
“I can’t thank all the people who have helped us during the last few months,” she said with monetary and manpower donations.
“We are truly blessed,” she said.
The 4-H Youth Show continues Thursday, July 26 and Friday, July 27 at 5055 Ann Arbor-Saline Road. Parking and admission are free.
Here’s the schedule for Thursday, July 26:
8 a.m. hunt seat and pony performance classes
8 a.m. goat show
9 a.m.-noon activity stations (make and take, open to all)
9:30 a.m. dairy showmanship followed by daily show
10 a.m. English/Western riding pattern, reigning classes
5 p.m. buyer’s buffet for livestock auction buyers
6 p.m. small animal silent auction
6 p.m. hunt seat horse and pony performance championships followed by versatility classes
6:30 p.m. livestock auction
Friday, July 27
8 a.m. horse and pony gymkhana and costume contest
9 a.m. small animal skill-a-thon
9:30 a.m. livestock judging contest
9:30 a.m. goat trail class
11 a.m. dairy judging contest
1 p.m. archery contest
1 p.m. tractor driving contest and pedal pull
1:30 p.m. animal decorator contest
2:30 p.m. lead with fiber
3:30 p.m. Ag Olympics
5 p.m. rabbit agility
5 p.m. grand entry – horse clubs
7 p.m. sweepstakes showmanship, senior recognition