WARRENSBURG The 2014 Warren County 4-H Youth Fair, featuring a talent show, contests, games and exhibits, is set for 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday Aug. 9 on the Warren County Fairgrounds.
While Warren County youth fairs have in years past featured an extensive lineup of attractions over a full weekend, the 2014 fair has no vendors nor amusement rides, and is to last only four hours.
The downsizing is due to budget cuts as well as changes in society, according to officials of Cornell Cooperative Extension, the agency that conducts the fair. Warren County Board of Supervisors cut the agency’s funding drastically in recent years, and volunteers to direct youth activities are increasingly hard to find.
While in the 1990s, Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program had 15 to 20 active 4-H clubs run by volunteers, only one 4-H Club now exists, and most all of the 4H youths operate independently without clubs, John Bowe of Cooperative Extension said.
The county’s youth, however, are aiming to keep the county fair — a tradition that’s over 140 years old — alive for future generations, Bowe said.
“We’ll mainly be focusing on recognizing children for projects they have accomplished,” he said, noting the exhibits of vegetables, baked goods, sewing and photography.
Citizens attempt to revive county fair
In 2010, several dozen people convened to try to revive a full-fledged county fair with rides, vendors, attractions, contests, amusements, shows and animal exhibits. However, the constraints of scarce manpower, limited finances and the expense of liability insurance discouraged the group, which disbanded after a few meetings.
In 1992 and 1993, the Warren County Historical Society revived the county fair, incorporating the 4-H youth activities while offering vendors, historical demonstrations and exhibits. The collaborative effort was named the Warren County Rural Heritage Festival & Youth Fair.
The Society officials organizing and promoting the fair bowed out this year because they couldn’t devote the many hundreds of hours necessary to organize the event, society members said.