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Entries in fairs (19)


4H Youth Show 2015

Our homeschooling group, the one we gather with once a week, sometimes more, to pool our energies and gather in enough numbers to take classes and go on field trips, is ostensibly a 4H club. I, ostensibly, am their 4H club leader. In our group that's not a big job. Most of our members don't even seem to know that they belong to a 4H club, so that makes my job easy. But over the two years I've had the job, I've slowly gotten to know the 4H machine better and better, and most of what I've learned is really great.

First, while most people when they hear 4H think cows, pigs, and sheep (oh my!), there's really a lot more to the group than that. 4H is really just a state run umbrella group for all kinds of clubs. As the parent group, 4H provides registration assistance, insurance, and even sometimes monetary support to the clubs that pay their nominal dues. So there are all kinds of clubs under the 4H umbrella, including dog training clubs or word working clubs in addition to the standard young farmer or horse clubs. There's our rather substantial homeschooling club, for instance, and at least one other club that resembles more a boy scout type assembly than a farm hand guild. It takes all kinds, and the varieties are far reaching.

Second, once you've paid your dues through your own parent club (for us that's our homeschooling group), you may participate in any other 4H club or activity for which you are otherwise elligible. The door is wide open! Come check it all out! Both this and last year, Calvin participated in our local 4H archery club, where, for just $1 per Tuesday evening, he got to borrow their equipment and their expertise for two hours of archery fun. They also offer classes or workshops throughout the year. Next year we're thinking about taking part in the photography workshops. And the 4H mother office is considering adding some fine arts classes or clubs, including creative writing, theater, and music. I know he'd love that.

The 4H year is wrapped up late every July, just before the August last hurrah vacations and the beginning of a new school year. The wrap up consists of a week of activities that show off what the kids have learned or accomplished during the year. There is a day of still project showing (those being anying that does not include livestock in some way), a variety of contests and competitions throughout the week (some including livestock, some not), and a final fun day of tournaments and silly races. Calvin showed woodowrking, photography, poetry, and educational wildlife notebooks as still projects this year. He participated in the make something out of foam scraps challenge, and competed in the archery tournament. He also got a little crazy in the end of the week olympic game challenge. We ate ice cream, got face (or arm) paint, hung out with a lot of friends, and, yes, saw the obligatory cows, chickens, horses, etc. Oh, and rabbit agility. Can't miss rabbit agility.


Dexter Daze, 2014

Our little town puts on a good party a few times a year, and the Dexter Daze bash is probably the biggest. Of course it's no Ann Arbor Art Fair, but it's still a rocking good time, and every year it gets a little bit bigger. I miss out on most of it, because I'm always in the library basement working the library's biggest used book sale of the year, but the two guys in my family always make the most of fair time. When I joined them for the chicken lunch at the Episcopal church this year, they had their afternoon time planned down to the minute, and when they picked me up at the close of the sale they were hot, tired, and totally happy. And for evening entertainment? Live music and good friends.

Plus, small towns know how to party and still have parking.


Back to reality with a bang

There's nothing like hitting the ground running after a relaxing vacation. Of course that should be the time to do it, when your energy has been replenished, your mind rested, and your soul reinvigorated. Sounds great, doesn't it? We got home Thursday, started the laundry, and headed out for a makeup swim lesson. Friday was a doctor appointment, then a wedding an hour away. Then Saturday we made the same drive again to go to the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival. Because the Renaissance was such a big deal here in mid Michigan. Of course.

It was a timely trip, though, since we're in the middle of a several week unit study of Italy, including the Italian Renaissance. The Mid Michigan Renaissance resembles something more like an English Renaissance, mind you, if not something more current and commercially sinister, but knights, ladies, and pirates are knights, ladies, and pirates nonetheless. Calvin went in pirate garb, in fact, complete with his Pirate's Cove hat we picked up last week. We got stopped twice in the festival by people wanting to know where we found a Pirate's Cove in the festival grounds. It was amusing.

If nothing says Renaissance like dust, soup in a bread bowl, camel rides, lazy tortoises, shopping, and lots of hilarity and fun? Then I'd say they're doing it right. Otherwise, they should rethink their business plan.

***as a side note, you may recognize Calvin's "pirate" costume for the "Martin the Warior" costume he got from his Nonnie for his birthday, it's just doing double duty right now.


4H fair time

This past week has been all about 4H for us. Not that we raise sheep in our sub-division backyard, or visit a riding stable on a regular basis (or really any basis at all, for that matter). In fact, we don't even have a suburban chicken coop under our deck. But it turns out that, while 4H is definitely about raising animals and riding horses and sheering sheep, it's also about a lot of other things. Their real tenets aren't about the animals, but the learning and teaching, the making of friends, and the growing up in a healthy, loving environment.

Our homeschooling group is actually a 4H club, which means that Calvin is a card carrying 4H member, so when this year's annual 4H fair rolled around, he opted to participate in their still projects category. That means that he didn't ride anything, raise anything, sheer anything, or show anything, but he did put a lot of work into five different projects in three different subject categories: natural resources, photography, and computer science and video. For natural resources, hours and hours of work produced three project notebooks with photos (taken mostly by him) and species information on 15 different native trees, 8 different native wild animals, and 8 different wildflowers found in the state. For photography he created a display of five pictures on one subject (his pear tree in our back yard). And for computer science he, with his dad's help, created a video game that teaches the finer points of backpack camping in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. All research, writing, and illustrating were entirely his own.

On Monday, he collected his projects and, on his own, presented them individually to the category judges at the fair. The 4H still projects judging process is a unique one. Each kid presents his project to the judge, who then chats a little with them about it, asking things like why they chose that topic, yadda yadda, and also offering tips and advice for future endeavors. In Calvin's age group, the Cloverbuds, parental assistance is allowed and encouraged, and only participation ribbons are awarded, but for ages 9 and up, non-competitive grades are assigned to each finished project, and a few projects are given the competitive disignations of "honors" or "best in show".

Of course the fair went way beyond the still projects. On Sunday we helped our club set up our "club table" and took our turn working in the kitchen, and throughout the week we stopped by to see friends compete in such live events as chicken showing, archery, and horsing around (really one of the many horse events, I just don't know which one). We also spent a lot of time learning about animals and animal care from very interested, and interesting, kids, and we touched a lot—a lot—of good natured farm animals.

We were there on several of the fair's six full days, and will be there again tomorrow for clean-up duty, and Calvin is not tired of it yet. All week long, as he slipped off with his friends to do this that or the other thing, I was repeatedly reminded of the fair in Charlotte's Web, when Fern disappears with her friends and becomes enamored with everything there is to see and do. And it wasn't just the obvious parallels, but also a sense of harking back to another time. There we were, surrounded by livestock, friends, and polite, knowledgable kids everywhere. It may not be time to move to the country and raise goats, but I can really see us enjoying 4H through the years as a family.

Walking the computer science judge through his video game.

Sharing his game with homeschooling friends.



Greenfield Village has a Ragtime Street Fair every July. Tea parties on the lawn, Gershwin in the theater, and Joplin on the stage. We were drawn to the event last year by the promise of good food and music and weren't at all disappointed. In fact, we were so enthralled we knew right away that it would become an annual event for us. In another fact, Jon was so enthralled by the piano cutting competition that he decided to enter it this year, and he brought home the Ragtime Piano Cutting Contest title. He didn't bring home the Ragtime Piano Cutting Contest winner's pot, however, because they make those in the artisan shop right there at the village, personalized, and results are not instantaneous. It gives us something to look forward to in the mail.

And one more fact. This year Calvin was so enthralled by the piano cutting competition that he thinks he might enter it next year.

Video of the contest winning performance:

The Gershwin Revue

Schmoozing with Teddy Roosevelt on the campaign trail...