One of the remarkable things about Clay County is how many things there are to do -- activity being especially furious during summer. No matter where your interest lies, or on what you are willing to spend money, there's something for you. No one has to stay home, watch TV and play Solitaire (my own favorite vivacity).
This past Saturday I broke away from the TV (no Cubs game on, anyhow) and explored the Clay County 4-H Fair. This Fair being about as close as I've been to a county fair. It had been at least five years since my last such outing, seven since my 2001"city-boy" observations were published by The Brazil Times. My exploration this year not being as extensive this time around, my go-getter doesn't go as far as it once did.
Mostly I wanted to see how much might have changed. Not much. I take not-much-has-changed as being a good thing, reflecting well on the preservation of what we like to call "Hoosier values".
If anything, the Exhibition Hall had more very well done exhibits than I remembered and in a brighter atmosphere. In an age of industrialization with its alleged decline in farming and farm life, the 4-H seems somehow to have more than held its own.
My favorite part is still the commercial and organization exhibits in the Amax Industrial Building. We try to buy locally whenever possible, so I check out the business exhibitors. I also looked to see what free items were offered by both the Republican and Democrat clubs (obviously they weren't trying to buy anyone's vote).
It still eludes me, though, how anyone can judge one animal of the same type as being "better" than another (without actually tasting them that is). As I wrote in 2001: I can almost understand how to judge a cat, or dog, or a horse. Either they do their routines or they don't. But, how does anyone judge a sheep, or a pig?
The one thing I do appreciate is the unchanged-ness of interactions observed among 4-H'rs and 4-H families.
There was one family I observed in the Exhibition Hall, sister and brother showing dad and mom around. The boy was a Mini-4H'r, about 8-years-old or so. I heard him called JC. He was excited about getting both an Honor and Blue Ribbon for his work of art [his mom and dad thought it was a work of art]. The most striking thing, though, was the affection shown by older sister, probably close to twelve one way or the other. The love radiating from these children could only reflect well the home from which they came. I choose to go through life believing this family is typical of what 4-H can add to all of us. And, I choose to believe 4-H offers a fifth "H" for the future of Clay County Indiana, United States of America -- Hope.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.