For 4-H'ers, the Minnesota State and county fairs are not just fun annual events. It's a chance to showcase their knowledge and skills they've gained throughout the year. With the pandemic, there were changes in the ways 4-H’ers participated in fairs last year. Youth across the state are showcasing their projects in person this year.
Toria and Fiona are sisters from Cottonwood County and longtime members of the Windom Workers/Dale Diggers 4-H club. They have shown projects in just about every category Minnesota 4-H has to offer, but their main area of focus is arts and crafts.
Toria is showing her bootstand she made during the school year. She was inspired to make the stand when she noticed how many cowboy boots her dad owned. Toria put her metalworking skills to the test creating the stand. She used recycled horseshoes from her family's horses and wire.
“I used a technique called feed welding, which is when the wire feed joins to metal by heating the workpiece. The two metals melt together to form the welded joint.” Toria explained. “I am looking forward to being there in person. Last year, you couldn’t see what everyone else made when it was virtual. Now I have a chance to see all the projects.”
Toria is also looking forward to showing her other craft projects. “The quilt I made is sure to be a showstopper,” she said.
Fiona will be giving a demonstration on how she makes her custom-made t-shirts and bandanas using her Cricut machine. A Cricut is used for cutting paper, felt, vinyl, fabric and other materials such as leather, matboard and woodmaking. Fiona started making bandanas for dogs with little paw prints and t-shirts for her family during the holiday season. “It's a really fun, easy craft to do,” Fiona said. “The process of making the design for the Cricut is time consuming but worth it in the end.”
“I always liked to take pictures,” Gabriella, another youth from Cottonwood County said. She is looking forward to meeting the judges in person. “It allows for more interpersonal communication because we can pick up on body language,” said Gabriella.
Gabriella will be showing in the photography project area. “I like to take pictures with my phone. My favorite things to shoot are flowers, and my friends who are dancers, to get really good action shots.” Gabriella has been focusing on lighting and framing with her new batch of photos. “I really like using the rule of thirds in my photos. I want to show the judges that I am trying to create visually interesting photographs.”
Gabriella has been participating in fair projects since she was a Cloverbud. The pandemic didn’t stop her from showing her photos online for last year's fair. She is currently working on gathering her 10 best photos to show. “I love photography and I will definitely keep doing it for a very long time.”