PITTSFIELD -- For the Berkshire County 4-H Youth Club, all's fair in goats and politics.
This Saturday, the youth group will host its 72nd annual Berkshire County Youth Fair and Horse Gymkhana, with highlights to include a new building dedication, a new transportation shuttle, and a goat milking competition to include Pittsfield's mayor, fire chief, sheriff and a state representative among contestants.
"This is a free event that's really for kids, by kids they take real ownership in that," said Angelica Paredes, a University of Massachusetts Extension educator for the state 4-H Youth Development program.
This is her 15th year supervising a group of students, age 12 and up, who are part of the leadership group that organizes the fair. This year's leadership team includes 10 students from across Berkshire County, from Cheshire to Ashley Falls.
Exhibit space to debut
Scott Robinson is president of Berkshire County 4-H Fair Inc. The association owns and operates the 7-acre fairgrounds on Utility Drive, which is rented for other community uses, from auctions to wedding parties.
Robinson approached the students this year to determine the use of a new building built in tribute to the late Candy Kelley.
Her brother, Chris Kelley, and his wife, Lisa, contacted Robinson about doing something in memory of Candy, who enjoyed equestrian activities.
A $35,000 investment of donated funds and services led to
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m., with members of the Kelley family present.
From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., visitors and participants will be able to browse 24 exhibit areas, from live farm animals to produce and flowers to art work and crafts. There will also be food, games, music and more.
Also new this year will be a free shuttle bus that will pick up and drop off people in downtown Pittsfield.
"We're on a great property but it's off the beaten path. This year the kids wanted [the fair] to be more accessible," Paredes said.
A group of student ambassadors met with state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, who helped provide seed funding to make the shuttle available.
Beyond the fair, Berkshire County 4-H have in-school and after-school education programs and clubs. The 4-H year runs October through September. Paredes said last year, programs reached a total of 463 kids.
This year, Berkshire County 4-H will expand to include a new Tech Wizards program, which will teach subjects such as computer animation and digital photography.
The program recently earned a grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The 4-H group is working to plan partnerships with the Westside Neighborhood Re source Center and the 21st Century Learning Centers after school program of Pittsfield Public Schools.
What: Berkshire County Youth Fair and Horse Gymkhana
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Berkshire County Fairgrounds, Utility Drive, Pittsfield
Bus schedule: Pick up at 10 a.m. in front of the Pittsfield Family YMCA on North Street; at 10:10 a.m. at the Dream Center on Cherry Street; at 10:20 a.m. at the Christian Center on Robbins Avenue and at 10:35 a.m. at Redfield House on Elizabeth Street. Return bus departs at 1 p.m.
Info: To learn more about local 4-H programs visit www.facebook.com/BerkshireCounty4H or call the UMass Extension in Pittsfield at 413-448-8285.