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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


4-H Projects go to Fair

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Fair season is here!

All around the state, 4-H members have been completing projects and getting ready for the county fair. They are “learning by doing” as they work with animals and a wide variety of other subjects too, from rocketry, to cooking, to photography, to archery. Their animals will be judged in the arena at the fair; and their non-livestock projects will be judged during individual conversations with a local expert in the subject matter. They also compete against their peers within the county and around the state. Learn more about what some central Ohio 4-H members are up to this summer.

Ohio is the birthplace of 4-H; and since 1902, 4-H members have been meeting in clubs, working with their peers, completing projects and learning about specific subjects, and learning leadership skills.

We have several free fact sheets available on Ohioline to learn more about positive youth development-related topics, including key information kids and volunteers need to know for club work and project judging:

4-H is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship, and life skills as they work in partnership with caring adults. What does that mean? Learn more at

During the summer fair season, 4-H members are judged on their projects. This is serious business – and a time-honored tradition.

For their "still," or non-livestock projects, they present their work on the project, often using a poster and photos too, during a one-on-one conversation or demonstration with a judge. The members who do superior work are especially recognized at the county level, and many of them move on to judging at the Ohio State Fair. You can learn more about all things Ohio State Fair at

As mentioned in the video above, archery is just one of many unique projects that 4-H members can explore. In fact, there are several shooting sports that address some 4-H members' special interests. Learn more at ohio-4-h-shooting-sports.

When they come to the fair with animal projects, 4-H members exhibit what they have learned during showmanship classes – in which they demonstrate how well they handle their animal and what they have learned about it. In market show classes, the focus is on the animal – this includes things like bone structure, muscle, mobility, and overall quality of the animal for its species.

4-H market animal projects usually end at the county fair, because the animal does just that – goes to market. However, 4-H members can also show almost any species of animal at the Ohio State Fair in a “junior division,” in which they compete with their peers from across the state. For the most part, this is a completely different animal than the one actually exhibited at the local fair.

All of this also inspires good-natured competition among youth at the county and state level. Winners are entitled to some bragging rights about the results of their hard work! Those who exhibit animals that win county fair market classes may sell their animal for more money at the fair auction. They might even be proving good genetics if their family raises a particular species of animal year-round, and one of their animals wins at the county or state fair.

4-H Project Central is an easy online way for current and prospective 4-H members to preview Ohio 4-H project books and resources. You can take a closer look at a book, find out what others have to say, and share your experience at

Contact your local Ohio State University Extension office and the 4-H professional in the county where you reside.  They will suggest a community club, in-school or after-school program, and other activities that will best meet your child’s needs and interest areas. Find a list of county Extension offices here.

Attending the Ohio State Fair has been a family tradition since 1850! You can check out the youth animal and other project judging throughout the fair, as well as a great variety of fair food, the famous butter cow display with great ice cream, a large natural resources park with free fishing for kids and wildlife, rides on the midway, free stage shows, and other activities. Make plans today to visit through Aug. 8 at