On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022, the 4-H members came together once more. We recognized the hard work the 4-H exhibitors did throughout the year! The theme this year was a ‘night at the movies’, with popcorn and a show! Over 520 guests showed at the Wayne County Fairgrounds in the Event Center. That is a record, as just last year the record number of guests was 350! We are in awe over the support our community has for the 4-H members of Wayne County. Moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, and other friends and family came together to share a delicious meal catered by Village Catering and watch as one by one the rsvp’d guests walked across the stage.
More than 100 volunteers were recognized, from those who have given a year to others who have given an amazing 55 years of service. These volunteers have sacrificed so much time, blood, sweat and tears, (including those who take vacation time to help run shows at the Wayne County Fair). These are the same volunteers that are on the front lines when results don’t go the way that some say they should. These are the volunteers, who on some days open the fairgrounds at 5 a.m. and don’t leave till 1 a.m. the next morning, with nothing to show for it but the bags under their eyes and the sense of accomplishment in their hearts. These are the volunteers who are the first to ask, “Hey what can I get you? Coffee? Mountain Dew?” after they have already worked their own tireless day yet are still giving time to help the 4-H program. I love watching all these different people with different thoughts and different attitudes all come together for one goal. That goal is 4-H! These are volunteers who have walked in the exhibitors’ shoes and want the 4-H program to move forward and grow. I know that some organizations may say they have some awesome volunteers, but I would bank on it that Wayne County 4-H has the BEST volunteers I have ever seen! It was an honor watching our 2022 Royal Court call the names of the volunteers who came to the stage to receive their “small” gift in comparison to all that they give.
More than 140 exhibitors came to get their recognition, their moment of walking across the stage. Seeing all these kids line up to have their names and their accomplishments listed in front of all these guests, was sensational, as was seeing all the work that these kids put into their projects: those exhibitor blood, sweat and tears! The kids had tears of pride as they accomplished their goal for the year! 4-H exhibitors are about as serious as those volunteers we just referenced. These kids are here to grow and get better! We see these kids put their heads into their projects, then they get their hands busy accomplishing their goals. Their heart comes next into the project, when they are so upset, tired and just plain done! Their heart, parents, and the volunteers help push them on, encourage them. All for the overall health and growth of these exhibitors. So many of them will tell you how they have grown, how they have matured how their life and leading skills have developed over their years of 4-H. That is why we do this, and that is why it is so important to recognize and encourage our youth!
As our guests ate dinner, we debuted our camp video clip. Counselors, adult staff, and campers all ohh-ed and ahh-ed as photos of the 2022 Hawaiian Cowboy Camp came across the screen. These are little moments that we all file away until something triggers the memory! Some counselors had tears of sorrow as that was their last camp, other had tears of joy as they laughed together reminiscing those priceless moments. Then the conversations turned back to all the fun and excitement the camp was and stirred the excitement for 2023!
Thank you to all those thirty-some volunteers who came out the night before to help put up tables and decorations. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped tear down the night after the banquet. Even though this night is set aside to honor you, you still show up and are willing to get your hands dirty. Let’s give our volunteers and exhibitors a nice round of applause. On to 2023!
Diane Johnson is a 4-H Program Assistant with OSU Extension-Wayne County.