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Youth to show projects, livestock at county fair

Arlene Rowland, left, and her daughter, Kelly Pirtle, review winning entries for home economics and general exhibits as judging takes place Friday for the Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair in the exhibit hall of the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds. (Juno Ogle Photo)

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The exhibit hall at the Eastern New Mexico State Fairgrounds was a bit chaotic at midday Friday as judging of home economics and general exhibits was underway for the Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair.

Ella Hobbs, left, Hudson “Dub” Swinney, Brady Dennis and Jonathon Forrest start arranging a display of winning entries Friday in the exhibit hall of the Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair. The fair kicks into full swing Monday morning with the rabbit show and continues through the junior livestock sale Friday evening. (Juno Ogle Photo)212

As adult judges tasted food, studied animal husbandry posters and examined pottery, 4-H members acted as runners, carrying winning entries aside to be recorded and set for display during the fair next week.

About one-third of the kids in 4-H are homeschoolers, said Chaves County 4-H and FFA Fair board member Arlene Rowland as she watched what she called “organized chaos.”

“It’s a way to really get them involved in community service and leadership opportunities and stuff that they really don’t have a lot of just because they don’t go to school,” Rowland said.

It’s also popular because it’s a program that parents and children can do together, she said.

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Rowland should know. Her grandchildren  — Molly, 12, Mazie, 10, Josie, 9, and Emmett Pirtle, 6 — are the fourth generation of her family to be involved. Their mother, Kerry Pirtle, is also now a board member for the fair and was a 4-H member under Rowland’s leadership.

Rowland participated in 4-H under her mother’s leadership — even becoming Otero County 4-H queen, Pirtle said.

“As parents, we’re trying to teach our kids to be good citizens, to have life skills, to know how to function in an adult world. In sports, you send them over to the coach, in school you give them to the teachers. This is a program where you get to work and do it more as a family,” Rowland said.

Because the program is administered through New Mexico State University, once children reach the middle-school and high-school years the 4-H curriculum can be applied to their hours spent in class, Pirtle said.

She said as adult she can appreciate what she learned in her youth as a 4-H’er.

“I always had a lot more on my plate than my school friends,” she said. “Now that I’m on the older side of it, I can see the benefits of why it was important to learn these things and pass them off to my own kids.”

While those showing in this week’s livestock shows are mostly farm and ranch kids, Rowland said 4-H offers a variety of categories — rocketry, floral arranging, electricity, photography and sewing among them — that children of any background can enter. 

The fair officially begins Sunday with checking in of animals and animal shows Monday through Thursday.

The schedule for the fair is as follows:

• Monday: 8 a.m., rabbit showmanship and rabbit show; 6 p.m., pet show followed by the dog show.

• Tuesday: 8 a.m., swine show; 1:30 p.m., meat goat show; 3 p.m., dairy goat show; 7 p.m., rodeo.

• Wednesday: 8 am., breeding sheep followed by market lamb show; 2 p.m., poultry showmanship followed by poultry judging; 5:30 p.m, dairy heifer show.

• Thursday: 8 a.m., heifer show followed by steer show; 4 p.m., wool lead and fashion extravaganza; 6 p.m. or after the wool lead, awards program.

• Friday: 7 p.m., junior livestock sale.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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