TRUMBULL COUNTY Teens tackle tasks tied to junior fair

With $11,000, a lot of discussion and some dedicated adult help, a board of 34 high-schoolers makes the junior fair happen.
BAZETTA -- Leave it to kids to know what's fair.
More than 700 local children came to the Trumbull County Fair last year to have their projects judged.
For many, the projects -- ranging from livestock to cookies and homemade dresses -- represented a year's worth of work.
Their barns, displays and shows cover one third of the fairgrounds and the fair's most familiar sites and sounds.
And it is all put together by a group of their peers. Kids working for kids.
Decision makers: With $11,000 from the fair board, a lot of discussion and some dedicated adult help, a board of 34 high school kids make the decisions that make the junior fair run.
"I love the fair, but there was stuff I didn't like and I wanted to try to make it better," said Christen Clemson, a Maplewood High School junior who raises rabbits, chickens and ducks for exhibit at the fair.
Now she does.
At a junior fair board meeting Wednesday, Christen chimed in that the group should find out how far away potential judges live before offering to pay their mileage.
She also spoke in favor of a decision to let children from any organization who help out with the fair to get in free.
"Everyone that comes in here makes a difference, because they offer an idea that is different and valid," she said.
Ideas float: A lot of ideas floated among the teen-agers positioned around a horseshoe of folding tables this week on issues ranging from T-shirt logos and colors to the appropriate refreshments for a reception with senior fair board members.
This is not always the most orderly board meeting, and officers occasionally must be reminded of finer points of parliamentary procedure.
"You have to remember, they are teen-agers," said Jan Solomon, the junior fair board's adult adviser. "If they get a little boisterous, or a little quiet, I just go with the flow. When push comes to shove, they give 150 percent."
The junior board meets monthly throughout the year to plan for the fair.
The kids hire judges, approve schedules, hammer out policy and publish a book with ads.
Every child wishing to show an animal at the fair must attend one of three training sessions conducted by the members of the Junior Fair Board.
It's a lot of organization and planning.
"This part and everything is a lot of pain, but when you go to the fair it is totally worth it," said Ashley Crain, a junior at Mathews High School in Vienna, vice president of the board.
Fair week, this year July 8-15, is the real work.
Gets tougher: junior jair board members make sure the judges find their events, set up public address systems, keep track of winners and distribute the ribbons.
Many are there 24 hours a day for the entire fair, trying to ensure that things move smoothly.
"It is a lot of responsibility, but it is also a lot of fun," said Stefanie Duda, a junior at Lakeview High School who lives in Cortland, but who keeps goats and steers at her grandmother's farm in Hartford.

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