August 21, 2019
CONNECTICUT AGRICULTURAL FAIRS
Bureau of Agricultural Development and Resource Conservation
Connecticut's agricultural fair season is in full swing with major fairs every weekend in August and September.
According to the Association of Connecticut Fairs, Connecticut's agricultural fair season runs from mid-July through mid-October. The Association of Connecticut Fairs distributes an annual Guide to Fairs Across Connecticut that lists 20 major fairs in Connecticut. In addition to 20 major fairs, the 2019 brochure provides information for four district fairs, nine local fairs, and the Connecticut 4-H County Fairs. For a complete list of fairs or to request the annual Connecticut Fairs booklet, please visit the Association of Connecticut Fairs website: www.ctagfairs.org.
One of the many fairs listed includes the 159th Woodstock Fair which will be held Labor Day weekend, August 30 – September 2, 2019. More information can be found at www.WoodstockFair.com.
This year’s Woodstock Fair will include a Battle of the Bands competition on Friday, August 30 from 1:00 – 5:00 pm to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival. The competition will give Connecticut-based bands an opportunity to perform music that was played at the original 1969 festival in the competition for $17,000 in prize money.
Each band will perform for 30 minutes and will be judged by a panel of public figures, including Governor Ned Lamont and Department of Agriculture (DoAg) Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt.
“I may have missed the first Woodstock concert in 1969, but I won’t miss the 50th anniversary Woodstock tribute concert in Woodstock, Connecticut,” said Governor Lamont. “There is no better way to bring together Connecticut music, arts, ‘60s nostalgia, and tourism all into one fun afternoon. I invite everyone to come enjoy a day filled with peace and music—and celebrate all that Connecticut has to offer.”
The Woodstock Fair runs deep with agricultural history beginning in 1859. Livestock shows including dairy, beef, sheep, and poultry are featured throughout the three-day fair. The ever popular giant pumpkin contest is a state-wide favorite as is the Barnyard Babies Birthing Center where the public has the opportunity to interact with area farmers and even catch the birth of a new calf.
A newer additional to the agricultural side of the Woodstock Fair is the Agricultural Exhibits Building. Providing the public with an opportunity to learn more about agriculture and where their food comes from, the agency will be exhibiting through the three day fair encouraging visitors to buy CT Grown and find their local farmer. Come by and visit us!
Connecticut also has seven county 4-H fairs that are held throughout the summer and fall. They give 4-H youth the chance to share their projects with the community.
All Connecticut 4-H county fairs are planned, organized and implemented by 4-H members with adult mentors providing guidance and support. This is consistent with the mission of 4-H to empower youth to reach their full potential, working and learning in partnership with caring adults.
County 4-H fairs include rabbit, goat, poultry and other livestock contests as well as dog competitions, and a vet science test. In addition to the animals and agricultural competitions 4-H also includes robotics and the sciences. Some 4-H youth compete in regional and national competitions. Winners of Connecticut County 4-H competitions go on to compete at the regional New England competition held annually at the The Big E in West Springfield, MA.
According to Hartford County 4-H Extension Educator, Jen Cushman, youth participants in 4-H gain lifelong skills in leadership, community service, workforce/career exploration and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). They also gain lifelong employability skills in team work, time management, public speaking, and record keeping which enables them to develop into contributing and productive citizens.
“4-H youth learn leadership and hands-on project management skills through experiential experiences including planning community service projects, leading 4-H business meetings and planning and implementing local 4-H fairs,” said Cushman.
4-H is a nationwide youth development program comprised of almost six (6) million members and over 500,000 volunteers delivered by the Cooperative Extension System. The Cooperative Extension System—comprised of a community of more than 100 public land-grant universities and local county offices—supports 4‑H programming in rural and urban areas across the nation.
The Connecticut 4-H program is administered by the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension Office in Storrs, CT and carried out by local 4-H offices located within the eight County Extension Centers. As part of UConn, 4-H has access to research-based, age-appropriate information needed to help youth reach their full potential.
The UConn 4-H program is open to youth 5-18. The UConn 4-H Explorer Program is open to youth 5 and 6 as of January 1st of the program year.
4-H members learn responsibility through their focus on one or more project areas. Projects include STEM, agriculture, healthy living, and civic engagement. 4-H youth are responsible for caring for animals, following through on robotic team responsibilities and assisting other 4-H members.
“4-H is vital to providing hands-on agricultural experiences and career exploration for youth who may become farmers in Connecticut,” said Commissioner Hurlburt.
“The positive youth development model is structured around learn by doing,” said Cushman. “4-H youth serve as club officers, fair association officers, and teen leaders and have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience leading fellow 4-H youth and adults in club and county projects, meetings and events.”
According to research by Tufts University, 4-H youth are four times more likely to give back to their communities. Two times more likely to make healthier choices and two times more likely to participate in STEM activities compared to their peers.