At many county fairs, Kids’ Day simply means discounted rides on the midway. While that’s the case at the Washington County Fair, the Fair Board and the Iowa State Extension Service has taken the concept to a much higher level.
The day was full of fun and educational events for kids. In fact, the entire week of the fair is loaded with events and attractions for kids, but Kids’ Day, Wednesday, July 17 this year, was double loaded.
It all started at 9:30 a.m. under a shaded pavilion and tents where the theme “Secret Mission: Investigate the Washington County Fair” was carried out in various ways. Hay bale sculptures around the fairgrounds reflected the theme. Kids could search the Lions Club Stage for popcorn or join the Horse and Pony Club at the Horse Barn for spy missions. While there, they could take free pony rides. They could design their own spy badges at the craft stations, solve their way through an obstacle course, go on a scavenger hunt and even attend a mystery meeting so top-secret this reporter could not attend.
Later in the day, kids could check out Farmer Phil, a Bubble Gum Contest, take advantage of a strolling Popsicle giveaway, take in 4-H educational presentations, participate in a Kids’ Pedal Pull Contest and enjoy a Kids’ Celebration.
The idea is to expand on educational opportunities for the kids, 4-H Youth Coordinator Amy Green said. Dianne Rinner, the Extension Service’s new Ag in the Classroom staff member, was on hand to present a seed germination demonstration. Rinner will be available to visit classrooms in the county beginning this fall. Her position was made possible through a partnership with the Farm Bureau.
Planning for the day began last winter, Green said. Green and Extension Intern Katie Palmer coordinated most of the event planning, but it took between 30 to 40 volunteers from sponsoring organizations to make the day happen. Green said the Fair Board has dedicated more resources to attractions for kids over the past 10 years. She said the role of the Extension Service has been to recruit and coordinate the efforts of the partners who both underwrite and support the event with volunteers.
The Washington County Hospital and Clinics was the sponsor of the day. The Washington Lions Club provided free popcorn. Pony rides were sponsored by the Ann C. Williams Insurance Agency. The Washington Public Library sponsored the Mystery Meeting. Peoples Savings Bank in Crawfordsville and Wayland provided swag bags for the kids and Washington County Public Health also provided kids with materials.