Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 4:38 PM by Global Reach

Actually, the first “fair” was called an Agricultural Fair.  At one time there was a race track in South Centerville, one held in the Cooper Creek area and also on Haynes Avenue, in North Centerville.
The earliest printed record is from a 1932 Mystic newspaper which records activities of 4-H Clubs back to 1925.  The first 4-H fairs were held in Mystic, IA by the railroad tracks south of Main St.  It was known then, during the 1930”s, as the  Mystic 4-H Fair.  The business men of the town put this event on and underwrote the total expenses.
There were four 4-H Clubs in Appanoose County in 1925.  45 girls were enrolled with five women trained to lead these girls.  Two more clubs were added in 1926, dropped to 3 clubs in 1929 but by 1932, there were 12.  Record books were judged at the fair, and a “healthiest girl” was chosen.  The True Blue Club of Exline, IA and Caldwell Township of Appanoose County was the oldest continuous girls club, starting in April of 1932 until the late 1980s when girls did not need to be in a “girls” club to have home economics projects and the club dwindled.
The club members aided in war efforts during the Second World War, too.  In 1944, a county drive to sell war bonds was made.
When the clubs were organized, there was an official 4-H uniform.  It was a two-piece blue middy dress with long sleeves, sailor collar, and a pleated skirt, with a long, black tie around the neck.  In the 1950s, the uniform changed to a one-piece, short-sleeved dress of blue material.  It retained the sailor collar and had a shorter white tie.  Still later, the uniform was a princess style, sleeveless dress made of green and white seersucker, with an optional jacket.  They then wore green skirts and white blouses with a 4-H emblem sewn on.  Now they only wear 4-H t-shirts when showing at the fairs.
The County Agents (now extension directors) were helping the boys with livestock projects with some sheep going to the Iowa State Fair.  The boys seemed (by some pictures we have) to wear their bib overalls or pants and shirts.  Later, they too, wore green trousers, white shirts with a 4-H emblem and green ties.  Now they also wear 4-H t-shirts only when showing at the fairs.
By 1939 the fair was growing and it was becoming a hardship on the people of Mystic to support the cost.  For this reason it was moved to Centerville by a group of farmers and business men.  Its present location (in Northwest Centerville) was purchased by a new board of directors of the Appanoose County Fair Association in 1939.
The buildings that were used, formerly CCC camps, were used for 4-H and open class exhibits.  The building used for commercial exhibits and the horse barn were built first, and tents were used for livestock.  A tent was also used for the show ring. 
Lots of problems developed over these years, but these conditions did exist until the early 1960s, when a new fair board was elected and began planning for the future.  They planned construction of a hay building, new livestock barns, show rings, installing water lines and more.
Since then more new buildings have been added, a large commercial building, and a very large 4-H, FFA and open class exhibit building.  Judges comment each year that the Appanoose County Fair grounds and exhibitors are among the finest in the state.
In 2004, there are eleven clubs in Appanoose County, totaling 254 members.  We have a large number of exhibits and livestock entries at the County Fair and we always meet our quota of exhibits at the Iowa State Fair and have several exhibitors exhibiting livestock there.
Former Extension staff in our county that have made a significant impact on 4-H would be two Extension Directors Harold Holder and Don Broshar.  Mr. Broshar went on to excel with the 4-H programs at the Iowa State level.  A lady who was outstanding with both Extension and the 4-h program would be Inga Eddy.  In past few years an office assistant who worked with the 4-H youth of our county and worked above and beyond was Kathy Staggs. 
The past 2 years have shown significant growth in the 4-H Program.  In the 2010-2011 4-H Year, there were 200 Appanoose County 4-H members.  The 2011-2012 year had 232.  As of March 2013, the Appanoose County 4-H Program has 245 active members.  We have grown to 13 4-H Clubs.  Our newest 4-H club is a cooking club.  This club began 5 months ago with 5 members and has quickly grown to 12 members.  There are 32 Club Leaders in Appanoose County and numerous other volunteers that make Appanoose County such a positive 4-H Program.  In addition to our 13 4-H Clubs, we have also grown to have 4 CloverKids Club.  There are 83 CloverKids in these clubs and 7 CloverKids Leaders. 
Of course, many Appanoose County 4-H’ers have gone on to success in agriculture, business and many other ventures and often thank 4-H teachings and experiences  for being a part of their success.


Visit the Appanoose County 4-H Website.

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