When the gates open Sunday for the 166th Butler County Fair, 12-year-old Alayna Meade will see the culmination of months of work.
Meade was with her mother, Anna, on Thursday afternoon, awaiting pre-fair judging of her 4-H projects that will be on public display during the fair, a big part of the annual Butler County event that runs Sunday through Saturday.
She began preparing for the fair in April and for good reason, she is entering numerous projects.
“I’m doing a cake decorating project, a photography project, a veterinary science project, a writing project and I’m also showing my dog,” Meade said while setting up her cake-decorating project.
The Butler County 4-H has 1,186 members, according to Kevin Harris, extension educator with 4-H Youth Development in Butler County. He said a majority of the members, with ages ranging from 8-19, complete a project and bring it to the fair.
The projects cover a wide range of topics, but all have the goal of teaching the participants valuable skills, Harris said.
“Sitting across the table from a judge, building that confidence and being able to tell a story about what they did with that project from start to finish,” Harris said. “For many of them, the life skills they learn here they will use for the rest of their life.”
Meade was one of many Butler County 4-H members setting up their projects in advance of the fair opening. She has been involved with projects through the Butler County 4-H for a few years, starting by showing rabbits.
“I’ve always been coming to the fair, but when I got my rabbit, I kind of wanted to get into it because I thought it would be really cool,” she said.
Last year, she participated at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus with her veterinary science project.
The county fair will feature many of the yearly favorites such as the tractor pulls Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday; the demolition derbies on Monday and Friday; and the rodeo on Wednesday.
This year will feature a new event, World’s Greatest Cowboy/Cowgirl Competition on Saturday. Turner said approximately 75 contestants from around the country have signed up for the competition. Competitors will navigate an obstacle course, with the best time winning a belt buckle.
Doug Turner, president of the Butler County Fair Board of Directors, said the new event is generating excitement.
“It’s very popular right now and sounds like it’s going to be a good event,” Turner said.
With the recent heat in the area, Turner said the fair’s enclosed buildings will offer relief for those who need a break from the high temperatures.
“If anyone does get overheated, they are more than welcome to come to the art hall or foyer of the new multi-purpose building and sit in one of the chairs and cool off,” he said.
Turner is also hoping the fair will highlight the fairground’s availability for different events year round. During the past year, the fairgrounds have hosted numerous wedding receptions, home expos, craft shows, cat club shows and a 5K run.
“(Operations manager) Kathy (Hangbers) does a fantastic job promoting and getting the word out there,” Turner said. “It’s (fairgrounds) really starting to get used, and that’s what it was built for.”