Love, Loss and Blue Ribbons: An Ethnographic Study of 4-H Animal Projects in Rural Community Fairs

Stephen M. Lochetto (Penn State Harrisburg)

Every summer, rural America comes alive with agricultural fairs, centered around 4-H animal projects. During the course of these projects, a child raises an animal over the course of a spring and summer to be competitively judged and ultimately sold. How do children negotiate this short-term relationship with their animal? I conducted an ethnographic study of 4-H participants among Lancaster County (PA) as well as Ohio community fairs to elucidate this question and others. The experience gained during animals projects, especially showing an animal, serves as a tool to teach children about desirable, human constructed cultural traits that will help them navigate life’s challenges. Additionally, children learn about foodways, material culture and community-driven aesthetic values.

Part of 07-05 Maintaining, Reshaping, and Re-Centering Periphery in Community Spaces [hybrid], Saturday, October 15, 8:00 am–10:00 am