Showcasing everything from animal husbandry and horsemanship to baton twirling and robotics, the 68th annual Atlantic County 4-H Fair will be held Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 10-12 at the David C. Wood 4-H Center and Fairgrounds in South Egg Harbor.
Hours are 12:30-10 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday.
The 4-H program is the youth development segment of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service, an off-campus division of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers University. The four H’s stand for head, heart, hands and health.
According to 4-H spokeswoman Patricia Goldberg, the fair was held from 1950-1957 at the Pomona Fire Company in Galloway, after being staged at schools through the 1940s. The first fair at the new grounds was held in 1958, after 4-H purchased a 12-acre tract at 3210 Route 50 straddling the border between Hamilton and Galloway townships.
The fair is a celebration of the accomplishments of members who work throughout the year on projects and activities through which they learn about animals, agriculture, equestrianism, robotics, engineering, baking, food preservation, handcrafts and more.
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The fair brings youths with diverse interests together with the community for a day of fun, competition, and a show of skills and learning, organizers said. The theme this year is “Take the Best Route 4 Life.”
The fair allows visitors to see the many ways the program embraces the “maker movement” — the hands-on, learn-by-doing practice that has been the 4-H slogan since 1902 and is defined in the 4-H creed: “I believe in the training of my hands for the ability it will give me to be helpful, skillful, and useful.”
The main building will showcase projects and demonstrations that highlight the more “traditional” 4-H projects like baking, preserving, arts and crafts, and fine arts. In addition to that will be displays of robotics and model railroading, and exhibits making use of science, technology, engineering and math — typically abbreviated as STEM — all areas of learning that are very much a part of the maker movement, according to promotional materials. Throughout the fairgrounds, examples will be found in the small engines, composting, and other projects.
For all its focus on science and technology, the fair is still grounded in its beginnings as an old-time country fair — an experience that is becoming increasingly uncommon as the county’s rural acreage shrinks, organizers said. Fairgoers will see animals such as horses, pigs, rabbits, chickens and goats at various shows and attractions all three days.
There will also be live music, amusement park rides, a pie-eating contest, karaoke dance party, talent show, baton twirling, clogging, tae kwon do and other demonstrations.
On Saturday the fair will feature a number of events that are open to nonmember participation, such as the 55th annual baby parade, a tractor pull, a talent and variety show, teddy bear tea, and pet parade.
One of the day’s highlights is the annual chicken barbecue, which runs 4 p.m. until sold out and takes place Saturday only.
Admission is free. There is a $4 parking fee. On Thursday only, a wristband good for unlimited rides from 2-5 p.m. can be purchased for $20.
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For a full schedule of events and awards, directions and other show information see rutgers-atlantic.org/4-H/fair or call the 4-H office at 609-625-0056 before the fair or 609-965-1677 during the fair.