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4-H at Catt. County Fair


By Mary Heyl

Originally known as “head, heart, hands, and health,” 4-H has been developing key life skills, including leadership, citizenship and responsibility, in students for more than 100 years, and the tradition continues in Cattaraugus County today!

The Cattaraugus County Fair is one of the main events 4-H members prepare for all year. This year’s fair, which takes place August 1-7, allows members to share the hard work that goes into raising and showing livestock, presenting their knowledge about our region’s agriculture and exhibiting their handmade goods, photographs and more.

This year, there are approximately 340 4-H members throughout the county, and 264 members will be participating in this year’s fair!

Students can choose to participate in the livestock portion of the fair or pursue other projects that will be displayed in the Youth Building throughout the week. According to Abigail Luzier, Ellicottville’s 4-H educator: “This year we project to have more than 500 exhibits in the Youth Building and 400 or more different animal entries between all the species.”

Although the fair opens to the public on August 1, it begins much sooner for students bringing livestock to show. All livestock animals are in place during the weekend before the fair opens, but students have actually been preparing for quite a long time. Breeding animals are those that students work with year after year, while market animals are a yearly project.

On Saturday, August 6 at 1 p.m., the Market Animal Sale takes place in the Livestock Arena, where students may receive the tangible benefits of raising livestock for the fair. Businesses and individuals can participate in the bidding process or simply watch the sale. According to Luzier, “The market experience is something that exposes our 4-H members to a real farming experience – from the selection and raising of an animal to its sale – which creates an income for the farmer.”

For most people, a day at the fair includes non-stop midway rides, entertainment and food. While this is a part of the 4-H students’ experience, too, it certainly does not describe the whole week.

It is the students’ responsibility to make sure their animals are clean every day and that their stalls are presentable before the fair opens each morning. Luzier adds that caring for the animals is an on-going project, as “4-H members also are grooming, monitoring the health and regularly working with their animals. Often, kids go above and beyond what is required throughout the year.” In fact, many students commit to spending the whole week camping at the fair so their animals can be cared for each day.

Fair-goers have several opportunities to observe the end result of 4-H students’ hard work at the many 4-H shows, including the goat, pig, rabbit, sheep, horse and other animal shows.  Luzier explains, “Judges look for a number of things, but it is different for each species and class. Many times with Cloverbud division (ages 5-7) children, judges are looking to see if they know the basic fundamentals of showing their animal; and of course they want to see if the kids are having fun in the show ring! When kids start to age into the Jr. (ages 8-13 ) and Sr. (ages 14 and up) divisions, the judges get a little tougher and try to get the kids to really think about the questions they are being asked, as well as how well they know the animal they are showing—both inside and out.” The full schedule of the livestock shows is available at

The exhibits in the Youth Building are always a must-see. Many 4-H students embrace their creative side to share their work in areas such as ecology and agriculture. Students can enter exhibits in geology, field identification projects, forestry and topics in environmental awareness. Additionally, students take a hands-on approach to the environment by showcasing home-grown produce, maple syrup, cut flowers and other displays of horticulture. Many 4-H students participate in the Family and Consumer Science aspect of the fair by entering their homemade and handmade items, such as baked goods, needlework, photography and other crafts. Ribbons and cash prizes are awarded during the weekend before the fair opens, and fair-goers can see the result of the students’ hard work all week long!

Those interested in joining one of the county’s 4-H clubs are invited to enroll for the upcoming year, which begins in September. Luzier encourages interested students to pursue any project and area they wish to explore, including horses, cooking and arts and crafts. There are programs for those who do not wish to work with animals, as well as special leasing programs for those who are interested in the livestock aspect of the program.

The lease program “is free of charge and a child who does not have an animal can lease and work with a farm or club. This is a wonderful opportunity for someone who has always dreamed of having an animal but does not have the facility to house it,” Luzier explained.

4-H is open to all students (kindergarten through 12th grade) through the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cattaraugus County. Those interested in learning more can contact Luzier at (716) 699-2377 or

The Cattaraugus County Fair is open daily, Aug. 1-7. See schedule, right, and visit for details.


SUNDAY, JULY 31 Set Up Day (No rides)

10 a.m. Antique Tractor Pull

10 a.m. Open Horse Show

5 p.m. Poultry Show

5:30 p.m. Cloverbud Horseless Horse Show


8 a.m. Western Horse Show

10:30 a.m. Goat Show – Jr. Dept & Open Class

4 p.m. Midway Opens

4:30 p.m. Mini Horse Show

7:30 p.m. Demolition Derby


Youth 15 & under: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. $6.00

8 a.m. Dressage Horse Show

8:30 a.m. Open Class Holstein Show

9 a.m. Swine Show

1 p.m. Midway Opens

1 p.m. Fair Pageant

4 p.m. Horse Gaming Show

4-6:00 p.m. Mercy Flight Demonstration

5 p.m. Rabbit/Cavy Show

7:30 p.m. Street Legal Semi & 4×4 Truck & UTV Drag Racing


Youth 15 & under: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. $6.00

8 a.m. English Horse Show

9 a.m. Jr. Dept Dairy Showmanship/Show

12 p.m. Sheep Show

1 p.m. Midway Opens

3 p.m. Horse Driving Show

7 p.m. Cowboy Mounted Shooting (Horse Arena)

7:30 p.m. Figure 8 Racing


Senior Citizens: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. $6.00

9 a.m. Jr. Dept. Beef Show

9 a.m. Rabbit/Cavy Showmanship

1 p.m. Midway Opens

5:30 p.m. Dog Knowledge/Dog Obedience to follow



9 a.m. Open Beef Show

9 a.m. Alpaca Show

10 a.m. All Breed Horse Show

1 p.m. Midway Opens

1:30 p.m. Grand Champion Livestock Showman

3:30 p.m. Barnyard Olympics

6 p.m. Monster Truck Pit Party

included w/grandstand admission

7:30 p.m. Monster Mash Monster Truck Rally*

Power Wheels Demolition Derby

Featuring: BIGFOOT, Overkill Evolution, Higher

Education, Bounty Hunter, Scarlett Bandit


8:30 a.m. Open Class Dairy Show (Colored Breeds& Guernsey)

10 a.m. All Breeds Horse Show

1 p.m. Market Animal Sale

1 p.m. Midway Opens

1 p.m. Monster Mash Monster Truck Rally*

Featuring: BIGFOOT, Overkill Evolution, Higher

Education, Bounty Hunter, Scarlett Bandit

6:30 p.m. USA East Sanctioned Big Rig Truck Pulling Series &

Pro Stock Tractor Pull*

20,000 lb Semis, St. Legal Semis, & 4×4 Trucks


7 a.m. Market Animals Released

9:00 a.m. All Breed Horse Show

1:00 p.m. Midway Opens

2:00 p.m. Awards Presentation

5:00 p.m. Worlds Largest Demolition Derby*

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