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Their Time to Shine: At the Cornish Fair, Young People Demonstrate New Skills

  • Hannah Falcone, 13, of Plainfield, N.H., with her Handymaker project- 5 different items revolving around a central theme, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Falcone, who also showed sheep and chickens at the fair, centered her project around chickens, with a wooden coop, an egg diagram, a woodburning, a painted egg, and a photograph of her favorite chicken, Beep. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Hannah Falcone, 13, of Plainfield, N.H., with her Handymaker project- 5 different items revolving around a central theme, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Falcone, who also showed sheep and chickens at the fair, centered her project around chickens, with a wooden coop, an egg diagram, a woodburning, a painted egg, and a photograph of her favorite chicken, Beep.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Molly, left, and Meaghan Taylor, both 12, from Unity, N.H., with their chickens, Omlette, and Lucy, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is their first year showing chickens with 4-H, and will be competing against five other 4-H-ers and their birds. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Molly, left, and Meaghan Taylor, both 12, from Unity, N.H., with their chickens, Omlette, and Lucy, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is their first year showing chickens with 4-H, and will be competing against five other 4-H-ers and their birds.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jack Hogskins, 14, of Lempster, N.H., with two of his Dutch Rabbits at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Hodgskins, who also shows beef cattle with 4-H, jokingly says he shows rabbits "'cause they're fluffy," but enjoys breeding and selling the rabbits to other competitors and pet stores. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Jack Hogskins, 14, of Lempster, N.H., with two of his Dutch Rabbits at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Hodgskins, who also shows beef cattle with 4-H, jokingly says he shows rabbits "'cause they're fluffy," but enjoys breeding and selling the rabbits to other competitors and pet stores.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Alex Gray, 10, of Hartland, Vt., leads his heifer, Opal, to a washing area at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is Gray's first year showing 4-H, and he says he isn't nervous, as he's gotten plenty of showing experience at 4-H events this summer. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Alex Gray, 10, of Hartland, Vt., leads his heifer, Opal, to a washing area at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is Gray's first year showing 4-H, and he says he isn't nervous, as he's gotten plenty of showing experience at 4-H events this summer.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Avery, 15, of Claremont, N.H., tries on a wool trench coat she sewed this year for a 4-H project and entered at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. "I wanted to make something that I would wear a lot, and I wanted to make something that was really colorful, as I don't normally wear colors," said Avery, who found the 40-year-old pattern online.<br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Anna Avery, 15, of Claremont, N.H., tries on a wool trench coat she sewed this year for a 4-H project and entered at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. "I wanted to make something that I would wear a lot, and I wanted to make something that was really colorful, as I don't normally wear colors," said Avery, who found the 40-year-old pattern online.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kathleen Metcalf, 17, of Piermont, with her heifer, kisses, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Metcalf has been involved in 4-H since she was three, and has one more year to show cattle with 4-H. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

    Kathleen Metcalf, 17, of Piermont, with her heifer, kisses, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Metcalf has been involved in 4-H since she was three, and has one more year to show cattle with 4-H.
    (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hannah Falcone, 13, of Plainfield, N.H., with her Handymaker project- 5 different items revolving around a central theme, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Falcone, who also showed sheep and chickens at the fair, centered her project around chickens, with a wooden coop, an egg diagram, a woodburning, a painted egg, and a photograph of her favorite chicken, Beep. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Molly, left, and Meaghan Taylor, both 12, from Unity, N.H., with their chickens, Omlette, and Lucy, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is their first year showing chickens with 4-H, and will be competing against five other 4-H-ers and their birds. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Jack Hogskins, 14, of Lempster, N.H., with two of his Dutch Rabbits at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Hodgskins, who also shows beef cattle with 4-H, jokingly says he shows rabbits "'cause they're fluffy," but enjoys breeding and selling the rabbits to other competitors and pet stores. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Alex Gray, 10, of Hartland, Vt., leads his heifer, Opal, to a washing area at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. This is Gray's first year showing 4-H, and he says he isn't nervous, as he's gotten plenty of showing experience at 4-H events this summer. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Anna Avery, 15, of Claremont, N.H., tries on a wool trench coat she sewed this year for a 4-H project and entered at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. "I wanted to make something that I would wear a lot, and I wanted to make something that was really colorful, as I don't normally wear colors," said Avery, who found the 40-year-old pattern online.<br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)
  • Kathleen Metcalf, 17, of Piermont, with her heifer, kisses, at the Cornish Fair in Cornish, N.H., on August 14, 2014. Metcalf has been involved in 4-H since she was three, and has one more year to show cattle with 4-H. <br/>(Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

The normally quiet fairgrounds are abuzz with preparations on the day before the Cornish Fair opens. Cows lumber off their trailers, chickens peck around their new spaces, and young students staple colorful and informative hand-drawn posters above their animals’ stalls describing the projects they’ve been working on.

As they confidently lead these projects and settle in with their animals for the weekend-long fair, held last weekend, it is apparent these students know what they’re doing, with adults occasionally lending a hand or offering advice as needed.

Many of these young fair participants are involved in 4-H, the 100-year-old national organization with the mission of “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential” using education and leadership in agriculture, technology and the arts.

For most 4-Hers, local fairs are the grand finale of a busy year that included activities from sewing to robotics competitions. Participants in the agriculture programs show off the animals they’ve spent the past year training, grooming — and cleaning up after.

For Anna Avery, 15, of Claremont, the Cornish Fair is one of the first places where she’ll show off the purple wool trench coat she sewed to perfection this year.

“I wanted to make something that I would wear a lot, and I wanted to make something that was really colorful, as I don’t normally wear colors,” said Anna, who found the 40-year-old coat pattern online.

While one animal or project is enough to keep a 4-H participant busy all year, others entered multiple entries in several categories.

Jack Hogskins, 14, of Lempster, N.H, entered both his Dutch rabbits, which he breeds and sells, and his beef cattle. Hannah Falcone, 13, of Plainfield, was particularly busy. She entered chickens, sheep and honey and also had a project in the “handymaker” category, which involved five projects revolving around a central theme — chickens in her case.

Hannah said creating projects for 4-H goes far beyond competition. She’s eager to learn everything she can about the animals she cares for.

“Why did I make my project about chickens?” Falcone asked. “Because I learn something new about them every day.”