Thanks to the help of several volunteers working behind the scenes, the fair is a success each year.
"They say 80 percent of volunteer work gets done by 20 percent of the people and I believe that," Clay County Extension Office Director Melanie Brown said.
Brown estimated 100-plus people have volunteered time to help prepare for the fair, many of which go unnoticed.
"They've spent unbelievable hours out here that people don't know about," Brown said.
There are only four full-time employees at the Extension Office. In addition to Brown, JoAnn Nees, Sue Urban and Jean Brashear all work there, in addition to part-timers Peggy Davis and Donna Black, who split their time between Clay and Owen counties.
Preparations for each new fair begins practically while the current fair is going on as Brown said the extension office begins planning for the fair close to a year before it takes place.
She said the extension office delivers a fair evaluation to volunteers, 4-H leaders, 4-H'rs and more, following the fair. In it, they ask about improvements and various other items.
Although some children work on projects throughout the year, Brown said many of them begin planning what they are going to show in February after receiving a newsletter from the Extension Office. She added enrollment into 4-H is due by March 1 of every year.
"That gets the wheels turning in their minds," Brown said.
For the most part, projects are the same throughout the state, but Brown said there are what she calls, "Clay County" projects that other counties do not have.
"I see (the 4-H'rs), as they grow up, go to different projects," she said. "They kind of morph from one thing to another as their interests change."
She added volunteers come to help in droves through the children.
And without the help of the volunteers, the county fair may have an entirely different look.
"As wonderful as my staff is, there's no way we could do this without the volunteers," Brown said. "I have found, in Clay County, once they volunteer, they don't leave."
Brown said all volunteers must sign a behavior expectation form and background checks are done.
"They're here as role models for the kids," Brown said. "It takes a community to do this. We are very blessed there are a lot of good people here in Clay County."
Results and photos
All results and photographs of Grand Champions and Reserve Grand Champions from the 2009 Clay County 4-H Fair will appear in daily issues of The Brazil Times this week.