Did you know the first American State Fair was held in Syracuse New York in 1841? This event kicked off the American Tradition of showcasing a states agricultural achievements and economic prowess.
Nine years later, Ohio would hold it’s first State Fair in 1850 in the Cincinnati community of Camp Washington.
Animals were brought from across the state to Cincinnati, Ohio by train and exhibited during the three-day event. The annual fair traveled the state before settling in its current location in Columbus, Ohio.
State fairs, and their cousins, the county fair, started out as a way to showcase agriculture but as the population has shifted from agrarian to urban the focus has been on showcasing what makes each community unique.
From concerts to robotics demonstrations, the modern fair is about a lot more than cows and plows.
While the animals and produce are still a fair staple and an important tool for teaching the community about the food system, fairs like the Hamilton County 4-H Community Fair teach youth, exhibitors and guests about the strength of self-directed learning.
4-H is a mainstay in the local fair movement. Youth self-select projects are asked to give presentations on what they learned through their project during the annual project judging.
The project topics are almost limitless, with youth raising guinea pigs, preparing spoken word presentations, constructing robots or even baking cupcakes.
To see Hamilton County 4-H in action come out to the 2019 Hamilton County 4-H Community Fair July 10-13 at Stricker’s Grove. Open to the public.
I have fallen victim to one of the most insidious crimes of modernity. In a world filled with seemingly unlimited access to information, resources and social capital I am left cowering in the shadow of the dark slate wall of my own consumption. Staring blankly down the aisle I can no longer move. Fatigued, all I can do is collapse internally as I fight to maintain a strong façade. Moving toward me, or rather drawing me into the confusion, I become flustered and irritated.
As I assess the situation I realize that I am not alone. That my tunnel vision is a nothing more than illusion. I am surrounded by hundreds of people who cannot move forward for fear of the repercussions of their decisions. Like a bird we all fly freely but, we seem to have lost our path. The unlimited nature of our world has scattered our navigation systems and we no longer possess the ability to make wise choices. That’s right, I am, and many of us are, victims of decision fatigue.
The unlimited choices and lack of access to downtime have forced us into a position of submission. Grocery stores are filled with more product choices than we can possibly research, social media floods our vision with stories of success and grandeur that we perceive as far superior to our own and our only refuge is self-imposed exile. We can blame technology but, it is not technologies fault for simply providing us with what we’ve always wanted, more choices.
It is our fault for not adequately adapting technology to help us sort through the weeds and pair-down information so that we can more quickly and simply access that which we seek. As we adapt to the season of shorter days and find ourselves consumed with the opportunity to engage digitally and to binge on the choices knocking at our preverbal doors, I encourage you to stop and take a breath. Consider how your choices can be more limited. This is best achieved through goal setting. If you approach your consumption with a lens that best demonstrates your own life’s narrative, you’ll likely find it easier to make choices and to impact the lives of those around you.
What does this have to do with 4-H? Youth engaged in 4-H projects have seemingly unlimited access to projects yet, they come out of 4-H sharper and more prepared for the future than many of their non4-H peers because, 4-H thrives on developing youth and helping them to understand their goals and narrative. That is one of the major benefits of 4-H, clarity of focus.