SOUTH WALES, N.Y. — We learned just a week ago that the Erie County Fair would officially be returning this summer, but for 4-H members, the work started long before that announcement.
Addison, Kendall and Ava Vergien know training and caring for animals is no walk in the park.
All three girls from South Wales are 4-H members. They've grown up learning and in some ways educating others about livestock.
"It's definitely work to get them prepared and get them ready to walk in a ring," said Addison, 15.
Kendall, 12, told 2 On Your Side, "Probably my favorite part with working with animals is actually getting that connection with the animal and bonding with them, and it's just really cool to have another animal and have that experience like, 'Oh, I did this at the Erie County Fair, that was amazing.' "
However, last year, while there were other opportunities for the 4-H members, the fair didn't happen.
"The kids, they missed out on quite a bit. Our youth thrive at the opportunity to compete against each other and really showcase what their abilities are and their strengths. I'm just thrilled that we're going to be able to give them that opportunity this year," said Tammi Kron, a 4-H livestock educator.
Kron told 2 On Your Side now it's full speed ahead for the about 350 kids enrolled in the program.
She said she and her team are working on soliciting judges to come evaluate the animals and the 4-Hers are all fine-tuning their skills to make sure they're ready for the Best 12 Days of Summer.
"It's going to feel really good," Addison said. "It's going to be a really fun experience to go back in the rings again, and just be able to get that chance to really prove myself, and be able to put myself out there, and hopefully win."
Kron explained the many 4-H members faced additional challenges this year, for example, increased costs due to the COVID pandemic.
"The support to our 4-H'ers is gonna be really appreciated this year," Kron said.
So if you see them when the fair returns in August, Kron told 2 On Your Side whether it's livestock or another 4-H project, the members are ready to take what they've learned and help others grow too.
"I like to call 4-H our A-Z program. If there is a project that a youth wants to learn more about or they want to do, we have the resources to be able to do that," Kron said.
To learn more about 4-H, click here.
To learn more about the Erie County Fair, click here.