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The smiles are everywhere. You just know under the masks the kids are happy to be on the Steele County Fairgrounds showing off their 4-H projects. I could also hear the glee in the voices of many 4-H students who joined us on AM 1390 KRFO for interviews about their animals.

Some kids earned Grand Championships and purple ribbons. Others didn't. But all were pleased to be together with their friends on the fairgrounds. During any other year, many would be dashing back and forth between rides, fair food, unique exhibits, and the animal barns.

But for many, most of the time fair week is spent in the barns anyway. Whether it's being with their friends and siblings or taking care of the animals, it's pretty evident that's where their love of the fair truly rests.

Taylar said, "I'm showing pigs, and having fun with them...Because then it will give us a learning experience." Spoken like an endorsement for 4-H. Likewise, Ella, in her final year as a Clover Bud had a busy week, "I showed my friend's cow today. I showed a rabbit a couple of days ago. And I did my project that I made, which is a flower project. And my dog project."

Lexi was involved with committees that made the 4-H showcase a reality in Steele County, "I was also on the Junior Fair Board. So we were having Zoom calls...We were going to try to have it in person if we can. There's gonna be rules and six feet apart. And we were all, line that's fine. We would rather have it in person than submitting a video for it."

Kalli showed her animal on a virtual basis, "You basically have to take a video at home of your sheep. You have to walk them around, set them up, present them the best you can. And then you send in the video." She was on the fairgrounds this week to provide support for family members showing animals in person.

Steele County 4-H Extension Educator Tracy Ignaszewski said kids chose to show virtually because of a live show this week that they planned to attend. She also indicated that a number of local students will submit their projects to the virtual state fair show.

Now, even though 4-H members are doing in-person judging this week, it is still nothing like a normal fair week. This year they are in and out pretty quickly. There's one show at a time going on. Unless students are in multiple classes, their time on the fairgrounds will be measured in minutes and not days this week.

And while there weren't food stands open during the showcase, students that spoke with AM 1390 KRFO received an ice cream treat from The Blast.