One local 4-H says it will not participate in its county’s fair next year over safety and equity concerns.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Steuben County released the following statement regarding its decision to no longer allow the Steuben County 4-H program to participate in the Steuben County Fair at the Bath Fairgrounds.
“On October 26th, 2023, the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Steuben Board of Directors and 4-H Program Advisory Committee have voted to part ways with the Steuben County Agricultural Society regarding their participation in the upcoming 2024 Steuben County Fair. This difficult decision was made after substantial consideration and after several meetings including multiple 4-H subcommittees, 4-H Program Advisory Committee and the CCE Board and with the full support of the New York State 4-H Program Director and Cornell Cooperative Extension Director. Regarding this issue, the following statement has been released by Cornell Cooperative Extension Steuben County:
“Steuben County 4-H, a program of Cornell Cooperative Extension Steuben County, will have an opportunity for 4-H youth to showcase their hard work throughout the year at a local property that is safe, welcoming and kind to all 4-Hers, families, visitors and staff that allows the 4-H program to follow State and County 4-H rules and policy. This is currently not guaranteed by the Steuben County Agricultural Society at the Steuben County Fairgrounds. We recommend changes to the venue to provide equity between programs, exhibits, and shows; and a safe and inclusive environment that fosters positive youth development. We recognize the importance of the tradition and long-standing history of 4-H at the Steuben County Fair, which makes this a difficult decision. We understand and acknowledge that many of our 4-H families are unaware of issues with the Steuben County Agricultural Society and that this will come as a surprise. We must prioritize the safety of our program participants, families and staff and feel that a change in venue is necessary at this time.
“In 4-H programs, kids and teens complete hands-on projects in areas like health, science, agriculture, and civic engagement in a positive environment where they receive guidance from adult mentors and are encouraged to take on proactive leadership roles. Youths experience 4 H in every county and parish in the country through in-school and after-school programs, school and community clubs and 4 H camps.
“Specific to Steuben County, the local county fair has served as a platform for youth to showcase their projects that they have worked on throughout the program year. After several years of trying to navigate different perspectives and objectives of the two organizations involved, it has become apparent that it was necessary to make a change and seek a location that is welcoming and safe; where the program can follow and function within the parameters and expectations that have been set at the local and state level. Steuben County 4-H will have a safe and fun multiday experience for 4-Hers to highlight their hard work at an alternative location in 2024 that will not be at the same time as the Steuben County Fair.”