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Cancellation Disappoints 4-H Members

Missing The Fair

The cancellation of the Chautauqua County Fair for another year due to the COVID-19 pandemic was met with disappointment by local 4-H kids and their families. Submitted photos

To the disappointment of many across the county, the Chautauqua County Fair has been canceled for the second year in a row.

For some, the official announcement was surprising due to the amount of other local fairs, including the New York State Fair, which at this moment are still set to occur this summer. There is also a fair amount of frustration, especially from the 4-H families across the county at the lack of state guidance for the Chautauqua County Fair, which has been cited as one of the reasons for this year’s cancellation.

Chautauqua County 4-H kids and their families have been hit hard by this news, meaning that for another year their projects and animals that they have been working with all year once again do not get to be displayed.

Grace Pfleuger, a 15 year old who participates in the 4-H hog program with her brother, expressed that she understood why the decision was made, but is still disappointed.

“I understand where the decision came from, but I wish they would have opened it just for the 4-Hers, like no midway and no public,” Pfleuger said. “The 4-Hers deserve something.”

Tyler Pfleuger, age 10, agreed with his sister, saying that he also understood the decision, but, like Grace, was also disappointed.

“I was a little upset,” Pfleuger said. “I knew why the decision was made, but I thought before they canceled it that maybe they could do something under a week, like maybe for four of five days for the 4-Hers, like just the shows.”

Marsha Smith, whose kids participate in the rabbit program along with other programs such as food, sewing and knitting, said that the loss of the fair is huge for both of her kids.

“My daughter Luisa participated in the rabbit project and will enjoy whatever is planned for the summer rabbit show, but she also enjoys food, sewing, knitting and other projects that are normally judged and displayed in the 4-H building,” Smith said. “It is uncertain what will be planned for projects that aren’t animals.”

Additionally, Smith said, her son Loren, who loves the fair a lot, is disappointed as well.

“The loss of monthly club meetings and in person events is huge for him, he has autism and those opportunities are priceless,” Smith said. “Virtual learning and gatherings were challenging and not as rewarding to him. We are, however, so proud and appreciative of our county 4-H staff and program committee for all they have provided in the last 15 months. They really are doing all they can!”

According to Smith, Loren is also mostly non-verbal, but asks many times a month about the fair and 4-H, saying that while the family will go visit other fairs, it will not be the same, especially since Loren also enjoys helping his sister with her rabbits and doing other projects that he is able to do.

“It’s hard but he takes pride in his club display and ribbons,” Smith said. “He loves to go to all the barns and say hello to his friends.”

While the disappointment spreads through many homes across the county, others are hopeful for other events that will be planned in the various 4-H livestock projects for the kids in the summer.

Jennifer Harris Bond, whose family is a part of the Dairy project, said as long as there is a 4-H modified show in the summer for the kids like last year, the impact of the fair cancellation will not be as great for some.

“I think if they end up doing that, the impact will not be as great,” Bond said. “At least speaking for my family, (we) aren’t there for the fair aspect, but the showing aspect.”

While the disappointment is huge for most 4-H families across Chautauqua County, many remain hopeful for the future events to come in the summer for those involved in the livestock programs and are looking forward to 2022 when the Chautauqua County Fair will hopefully be able to take place once again.

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