Join in the fun
About 180 4-H’ers will compete in the annual County 4-H Club Day, which will include dancing, singing and project talks.The event, which is open to the public, is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Dreher building and Building 21 at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper St.
For more information or a schedule of activities, visit the Douglas County’s K-State Research and Extension Web site at www.douglas.ksu.edu and click on 4-H and Youth. The Extension’s phone number is 843-7058.
When many people think of 4-H, they think of the county fair.
But there is another annual event that 4-H’ers work hard to prepare for; it’s called County 4-H Club Day and it’s Saturday.
It’s a day when 4-H’ers give talks, dance, play instruments, sing or practice parliamentary procedure in front of judges and the public. They receive ribbons — purple is the best and white is the worst — from judges.
About 180 4-H’ers will be participating in Saturday’s event from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in hopes of moving on to regional competition in March.
“It’s a time for them to come and showcase their skills and talents in a bunch of different ways,” said Mark Flory, 4-H agent.
It also helps 4-H’ers polish their public speaking skills, which can be useful in the classroom and for college and job interviews.
As a 4-H’er, Flory said he gave a talk on “How to Properly Work a Litter of Baby Pigs.” He used a stuffed pig to show how to give vaccinations.
“It was a chance for me to talk about something I knew,” he said. “But, getting up in front of that group was something that sure had to come with time. It wasn’t something that right off the bat was real comfortable, but it sure helped me out down the road.”
There was one category — square dancing — that Flory competed in for nearly 11 years because it was downright fun. Competing in the dance is a tradition that runs deep in his family and the 4-H club they belonged to, Lone Star 4-H Club.
Flory’s grandfather, Raymond Flory, 76, was a charter member of Lone Star and danced in the County 4-H Club Day competition in the late 1940s. Back then, Raymond said, the roads were all gravel and the teenagers entertained themselves within their small communities instead of traveling to Lawrence. He said there were a lot more 4-H’ers and everyone looked forward to the square dance competition, even his wife, Caroline, 75.
She was a member of the Clinton Busy Bee 4-H Club and remembers trying to beat Lone Star.
“It was competitive back then,” she said. They never could beat the Lone Stars.
Their son, Roger Flory, 52, who is Mark’s dad, also participated in the square dancing competition as a 4-Her in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
“The moms made the square dance skirts and the vests,” he said. “It was all about dressing up. It was a pride factor, and I mean everybody would usually come to try and beat Lone Star.”
Did they usually win?
“Yes,” he said, breaking into laughter. “It was something that everybody looked forward to every year.”
Roger said there often would be two or three squares of eight people participating from his club.
On Saturday, a group of eight 4-H’ers will carry on the Lone Star tradition of competing in County 4-H Club Day. It will be the only group to perform a square dance in the dance category. The club even had to recruit five 4-H’ers from other clubs to make a square.
While the competition might not be as tough, the spirit is still very much alive. During a recent practice, the club members, ranging from ages 13 to 18, were laughing and having fun.
“We’re looking better,” said Mason Kelso, 13, of Eudora 4-H Club. He described the first practice in mid-January as a “train wreck.”
Kelso predicts the group will earn a purple after taking the stage at 12:25 p.m. in the North 21 building at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
He isn’t so confident about his project talk on how to select and care for rabbits, and it’s not because he is worried that his three pet bunnies will act up. It’s because he “threw the talk together at the last minute.”
Kelso also will be playing a solo on the piano, performing a piano/trumpet duet with his brother and participating in the model meeting competition.
“I will be very busy,” he said.