There are sure to be plenty of smiling faces on Saturday when 4-H’ers from across Scott County make their much-awaited return to the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds.
It’s that day when Keppy Hall will come alive as 4-H’ers and North Scott FFA members gather to have their static projects judged before the 2021 Mississippi Valley Fair officially kicks off on Tuesday for its six-day run.
After COVID-19 denied exhibitors the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and talents in 2020, the grounds are sure to come alive with all the familiar sights, sounds and smells that make the fair a summer staple.
“I think we’re just preparing for a normal fair,” said Scott County Extension director Becky Bray. “Nobody wants to think about last year’s fair. Everybody is ready to have a good fair, and I’m sure kids are anxious to get back.”
Jordan Jones, who will be an eighth-grader at North Scott Junior High this fall, is both excited and nervous. Jones, 13, is a first year 4-H’er and a member of the Winfield Whipperwills.
“I’m most excited to experience stuff at the fair that I’ve only heard of from other people,” said Jones. “My friends have done it, and now I get to do it. I joined because I talked to a friend and just decided to do it. I told my dad I was going to show meat goats, and while he originally didn’t agree, I eventually got him to do it. I’m really excited.”
Jones, who lives in Eldridge but has her goats on her family’s farm near Maysville, jumped into her goat project with both feet.
“It wasn’t hard to learn because I was obsessed with the topic,” she said. “I researched it a lot, and since I’d never been to a goat show, learning about them was the hardest part.
“My dad was a big help, and I’ve watched a few goat shows online so I know what I’m doing in the ring. I’m most nervous about having them behave correctly. I have one, for sure, that I think will be pretty good, but the other two are iffy.”
When Jones and her friends show up at the fairgrounds, Scott County 4-H program coordinator Emily Lyon is hoping it will be as if they never left, although she said it’s taking a little extra time to get back in the swing of things, just because it’s been two years.
“I think we can expect smooth sailing,” she said, “at least I hope so. Becky (Bray) always jokes that if you have a perfect fair, you don’t have to do it again. So, we haven’t had a perfect one yet, but that’s OK.
“I just think everybody is excited to be back at the fairgrounds, and the staff feels the same way. We’re just excited to see everybody, and see what the kids have done.”
Lyon said she thinks that entries will be fairly normal.
“I know that other counties have struggled with entries, especially with the static departments, but we already have quite a few entries in,” she said. “It’s just really nice to feel that same anticipation that we always have before the fair, and that we missed out on last year.”