Clatsop County Fair is ‘icing on the cake’


By Sue Cody


County Fair 4 FBAs the temperature rises, so does the activity at the Clatsop County Fair. Kids are abuzz with energy, chores, nerves and just plain fun. While kids climb a rock wall, a pirate sets up a display complete with parrots at his ship. Dogs are tested at an obedience course, while young women study their notes for judging horsemanship.


The smell of elephant ears, curly fries, Mexican food and corndogs permeates the air, while a magician entices children to help him on stage. Inside, the displays of flowers, artwork, Lego villages and baked goods show a sense of accomplishment.


The barns are filled with horses, chickens, rabbits, bulls, swine, calves, turkeys and all kinds of animals. And there are the kids in 4-H who raised them, busy cleaning stalls and sweeping the walkway.


“The kids have to do all the work of feeding, watering, cleaning the stalls and grooming the animals,” says Michelle Anglim, a 4-H leader. “Adults are only allowed to help if there is a safety issue.”


“Learning life skills is what it is all about,” says Sandra Carlson, Clatsop County 4-H coordinator. “Kids learn integrity, empathy, responsibility, leadership, community outreach and teamwork.”


County Fair 3 FB“There is such a variety of activities,” Anglim says, as she reels off projects her children have been involved in, such as making sausage links, cooking and eating them; sewing; making bread and butter; creating ornaments for the Christmas Wishing Trees; and making placemats for care homes.


“Kids learn responsibility and leadership because there are requirements for their presentations, whether it be dog obedience, horsemanship or showing market swine,” she says.


County Fair 1 FBActivities cross traditional barriers


4-H activities are not divided between traditional male and female roles. Girls and boys learn life skills together. Girls learn to change the oil in cars, boys learn to sew and arrange flowers. Everyone can learn horticulture, cooking and raising animals.


Hayleigh Anglim and Austin Lacy both like sewing. Hayleigh says she likes it because her leader, Ashley Latora, is a good seamstress and brings all kinds of patterns for the kids to choose from. Hayleigh has made a reversible skirt, a fleece hat, pajama dress and more.


Austin says he recently had to sew a button onto his pants after it fell off. “I love the sewing machine, but I don’t like hand sewing,” he says. He also does a lot with sheep, pigs, poultry, horses and chinchillas.


One young girl grooming a rabbit recognizes this writer’s The Way to Wellville shirt and gets excited. She says, “I was in Clatsop Kids Go!” It is an in-school program developed by The Way to Wellville to encourage kids to stay active, eat healthy foods and practice mindfulness. It served 250 students last year in three school districts, and will continue in the fall.


County Fair 2 FBA crowd of boys circles a table for the flower arranging contest. Juan Jimenez concentrates as he clips stems and places them in the arrangement. Last year he arranged flowers at the Oregon State Fair, which he says was “a crazy, good experience.” He says when he was in sixth grade, he was pushed to do flower arranging and judging by his leader, Katherine Kahl.


Juan says, “We have a motto — ‘Real men arrange flowers.’”


Kahl says, “Most of these kids won’t be farmers, but they will be consumers. They will know where their food comes from and the value of hard work.”


Carlson says, “The County Fair is the icing on the cake, the grand finale, a way to show off what these kids have accomplished.”