MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Agricultural Society is currently raising funds to replace goat and rabbit pens at the Miami County Fairgrounds, and the youth of Miami County 4-H have rallied around the project to make it a reality.
A combined estimate for the two pen replacement projects — a cost of $61,000 — was announced earlier this year.
“The fair begins Aug. 10, so we’d like to have pens ready to go by Aug. 1,” said Miami County Fairgrounds board member Roberta Jacobs, who went on to estimate that fundraising goals are currently “right at about 50 to 60 percent. It’s a moving target, because there could be donations coming that we haven’t received.”
As requests were put out for contributions, kids in Miami County 4-H, who regularly show animals at the fairgrounds each year, immediately put their heads together to see what they could do.
“We originally talked about selling items at the farmers market,” head 4-H adviser Melissa Beal said. “We looked at the timeline, and realized there wasn’t enough time to raise money for the fair in August. They’d need the funds sooner to build pens. The kids then decided they should each do their own bake sale, or offer some sort of product, and the pieces just fell into place. I had several different kids who were able to raise some money.”
Children who participated in the baking fundraiser included Jadyn Bair, Zoe Blankenship, Kearsten Kirby, Ashleigh Powis, and Damien Reynolds.
“They mentioned that the fairgrounds were asking for donations or if there could be any sponsors to help get money to install the new goat pens,” 4-H parent Mindy Gephart-Bair said. “Every year we’ve shown, goats get out or get injured. The pens are old, so it’s time.
“Jadyn loves to bake, so we decided to make cupcakes. It was weeks of cupcake after cupcake. She did at least a thousand, and sold them by the dozen. We stopped counting, because there were so many orders. Some orders were only 12, and others were closer to 100. Orders were purely by donations only, and those ranged anywhere from $1o to $100. She ended up raising about $1,200 in total.”
Other kids took different approaches in the fundraiser, such as Kearsten Kirby, who sold Buckeyes.
“Buckeyes are a big deal for our family,” 4-H parent Jennifer Kirby said. “We make them every Christmas. We decided that would be what Kearsten would make and sell, and I put the blast out on Facebook explaining what she wanted to do to raise money. In a week’s time, we made 125 dozen, and raised $1,325. Kearsten’s goal was initially $600, so she exceeded that.”
While a group total in the fundraiser was undetermined, the children’s donations to the fairgrounds have allowed for at least seven goat pens to be constructed immediately, valued at $700 each.
“I think it showed their pride in the project, and their concern for their animals in wanting them to have nice pens,” Beal said of the fundraiser. “The kids also saw it as a service to the community. It’s had multiple great effects.”
“The entire 4-H community, especially those with goats and rabbits, have taken ownership of this project,” Jacobs said. “Whether it be kids showing the animals or their parents, its been an effort of so many people. It gives me goosebumps when I think of what some of these kids have come up with, and it’s not just because they want new pens — it’s also because they’re invested in the safety of the animals, the participants, and the spectators coming through. There’s a lot of pride involved in this.”
Jackson Tube of Piqua also has made a substantial donation of materials toward the creation of the pens, while other fundraisers continue to be held.