If you've driven by the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville this week, you've probably noticed that the big tents are set up, barns are open and the parking lot is bustling with 4-H'ers checking in their 4-H Fair projects.
We love the Fair and look forward to it every year. Maybe it's the smell of the horses and cows and pigs that fill the barns. Or the thousands of 4-H'ers projects that are judged and on display to the public. Or maybe the delicious food that's being served by 4-H'ers, Extension Homemakers and other groups.
There is just something magical about the 4-H Fair.
On Sunday evening, my daughter checked in her last two 4-H projects, Health and Photography, which were both display posters. We felt a huge relief once those projects were in the hands of 4-H volunteers who would keep the posters safe until judging.
I love to see my daughter participate in the Photography project. Maybe, because I've always enjoyed taking photographs, and hope she has a passion for it, too.
Tuesday morning, we attended open judging for the Photography project and had the opportunity to sit down with the judge, who critiqued each project entry. My daughter showed 10 color photographs that she displayed on a white poster.
"Great photos," he wrote on the judge's form for her entry. Seeing those words put a big smile on her face. He talked with her for a good while, about how many of her photographs told a story while capturing a moment in time.
She listened intently to his every word, taking mental notes of what she could do better next year. She walked away with a blue ribbon and an honor ribbon. And she was happy because receiving an honor ribbon meant she would also be in the running for champion or reserved champion ribbons.
While we did not see the outcome, we will be eager to go find her project poster on Thursday, opening day of the 4-H Fair.
Her meeting with the judge was both a pleasant and encouraging experience. And she said it's OK if she doesn't win another ribbon. Because it isn't about all of the ribbons you put on your bulletin board.
It's about learning by doing and making the best better.