The Redwood County 4-H program has announced it is going to be hosting in-person achievement fair events during the week of July 13-17.

The week of events begins July 13 when the performing arts, clothing and needlework projects will be judged at First United Methodist Church in Redwood Falls.

According to Stacy Johnson, Redwood County 4-H Extension educator, “we are working very hard to ensure safety and sanitation protocols are in place to maintain the highest possible level of safety for our 4-H families, our 4-H volunteers and our 4-H judges during our Redwood County Achievement Fair.” 

“The process will require more volunteers who will receive orientation prior to our achievement fair. Families will have strict guidelines to follow and will include health screening, social distancing, limits on achievement fair guests (only the exhibitor and one or two parents/guardians),” added Johnson.

Basically if one is not exhibiting they are not allowed on the fairgrounds or in judging areas.

Sanitation of judging areas will be done between youth judging experiences, and there will be a new judging format this year which will include signing up for judging time slots. A decision was made not to limit the number of projects a 4-Her can bring.

“Although due to some changes within our judges we may have a reduction in projects we are able to judge. Once we get our feedback from our judges we will be calling on our local experts to help fill areas within the judging format,” Johnson explained.

Both general and livestock projects will be part of the achievement event.

The general project judging experience will include bringing projects as 4-Hers have done in years past.

“This year we will have an added requirement of including an 8”x10” photograph of the 4-Her with their project, as projects will not be left with the judge nor at the fairgrounds,” she added.

This year an orientation day will be held for families to attend in order to learn more about safety and sanitation requirements as well as how to engage in a no-contact judging experience.

According to Johnson, “in addition to judging format changes we are working on alternatives to creating more local showcase events for our youth to display their projects in cities across Redwood County.”

The Redwood County dog project leadership with input from youth dog project members have decided to move to a fun show format this fall. This choice was made due to requirements within the dog project that require youth to advance levels of dog training with any blue ribbons.

“This year the dog project training was reduced due to COVID response for youth safety. The leadership felt the reduced training time would be too intense for working with youth to advance project levels. Rather the groups decided they wanted to maintain quality of the dog project training experience and allow youth to work with their dogs in a manner that provides success in learning,” Johnson explained.

Is there an option for 4-Hers who do not feel comfortable coming to an in-person event?

“Absolutely, we want our youth and families to be comfortable with the achievement fair. We have a virtual judging option available for youth who feel uncomfortable with the in-person achievement fair events. Virtual judging will involve creating a short video highlighting key topics about their project and submitting the video along with four pictures of the project through an online program. Any 4-Her wanting to complete this process for judging is encouraged to notify the Redwood County 4-H educator who will guide them through the process,” Johnson added.

All youth must have their projects registered at redwoodmn.fairentry.com by July 6. This is to help youth have more time to complete their projects and photo requirements as well as to allow staff to create required judges sheets for the achievement fair processes and protocols.

In order for this event to be a success, Johnson said a number of volunteers are required.

“This year we have volunteers who are signing up to be photographers, videographers so we can live stream our judging shows so other families members can watch. We are needing help with health screening and gate entrance attendants, safety attendants and more. We welcome volunteers,” ex-plained Johnson.

To learn more or to volunteer, contact Johnson by calling (507) 637-4025 or sending an e-mail to skjohnso@umn.edu.