by MYKAELA BILLINGSLEY, Polk County FFA Federation Officer
Photo by TOM HAGERTY
This year the 2023 Polk County Youth Fair reached an all-time high. Some things changed at the fair, including animal weight limits and a new market lamb auction. This year, there was no maximum weight for hogs. This meant your hog could weigh more than 295 pounds, but you would only be paid up to 295 pounds. There were a total of 402 hogs, 91 heifers, 92 steers, and 202 plants sold at this year’s youth fair.
Another change at this year’s fair was the addition of a lamb auction right before the steer sale. Last year, the lamb show was brought back after decades. There were not many lambs last year, but it was a great opportunity to spark new interest. This year the interest in lambs grew, and a sale was added. Exhibitors could sell their SAE project in an auction.
With interest growing in the agriculture community, it is amazing to see more and more students signing up to be a part of the Polk County Youth Fair. Many students may not know that the youth fair is not only about the cattle and other livestock but it offers many other opportunities such as whip popping, cake auctions, chili cookoffs, family and consumer sciences projects, and many other activities that are just waiting to gain interest. There is something for everyone at the Polk County Youth Fair; it is not just about animals. The Youth Fair is an opportunity for students to be able to reach out into the community and learn new skills. The Youth Fair is a community— a group of people that come together for one week in January to make a difference in everyone’s lives.
The ones who need recognition are the people who make it happen. The volunteers that are there to help everyone, the committees that help ensure that every child has an amazing youth fair experience, the agriculture teachers and 4-H leaders guiding students, and the buyers and sponsors that help us finish out our projects at the very end. Each and every person at the youth fair contributes in some way to help the fair come to life every year. Without those people the youth fair would not be such an amazing experience for 4-H and FFA members in the county. The Polk County Youth Fair is a week I hope everyone gets the chance to experience at some point in their childhood, whether it is raising some type of livestock, selling plants, baking a cake, or entering a project that they have spent countless hours on. It is an experience that will change people for the better and give them a sense of community.