Many Muscatine area residents recognize the Muscatine County Fair, held at the County Fairgrounds in West Liberty, as a week of fun. The week includes rides, small stage shows, grandstand shows, and more delicious food than many people see or taste in a year.
However, there is an entire other side to the fair that many people are not aware of. The county fair is the end goal to yearlong projects for many 4-H and FFA students. The various clubs and individuals work throughout the year on projects ranging from sewing, home décor, and baking to livestock projects involving sheep, cattle, and swine. There are projects that involve training dogs and horses and even displaying rabbits and small animals.
4-H projects are as varied and widespread as the kids who show them. Some clubs are made up of predominantly rural families with easy access to livestock, while other clubs are a place for children who live within the city limits to expand their view and experience.
The projects that are not livestock or pets are judged prior to the fair opening on Wednesday of fair week. These projects are displayed in the 4-H building all week long for fairgoers to view. Projects that place above others move on to be judged at the State Fair in Des Moines.
Individuals who do not belong to a 4-H or FFA club are still able to compete in several categories. These competitions are known as open competitions. Home Life and Creative Arts categories include baked goods, fruits and vegetables, preserved foods, horticulture, and even photography. These competition classes are open to minors as well as adults. Open classes are available for livestock as well, including bucket calves, rabbits, and horses.
All these judging events are open to the public at no additional charge.