The annual Polk County Youth Fair is coming. The end of January will find critters, kids and countless other activities abounding at the Stuart Center in Bartow, with ribbons galore and the culmination of a year's worth of hard work for hundreds of Polk 4-H and FFA members.
The annual fair got its first formal go-ahead two weeks ago when the Bartow City Commission officially declared the last week in January as Polk County Youth Fair Week.
Youth Fair President Paul Webb and FFA representative Sarah True, of Frostproof, accepted a proclamation from Bartow Mayor Billy Simpson, citing the fair for its involvement with local youth and the benefits gained by its participants.
Simpson also cited how the fair not only adds dimension to the county's youngsters' education, but has been an economic boost to the city for the numbers of fair-goers who come to support the agricultural community and ancillary industries and business that support them.
This year's fair will officially launch on Saturday, Jan. 25, with the premier horse show held at the Stuart Center on U.S. Highway 17 in Bartow. Throughout the following week, activities including the hog show, goat tying, horticultural show and consumer science projects will make the Stuart Center a hive of both animals and kids.
This year, according to Maria Wetherington, who is handling marketing for the fair, there will be some 3,000 entries with 1,200 exhibitors hoping to take home a ribbon or prize-winning animal that will bring top dollar at the subsequent sales events.
Started in 1947, the fair gives youths of all ages an opportunity to display their work in ag and consumer science projects and “to compete as individuals with one another and against the highest standards of perfection in a program serving to promote the educational development of the youth of the county,” Wetherington says.
It all comes to a close on Friday, Jan. 31, with the awarding of the tri-color ribbons and the parade of champions.
Most of the events are open to the public, but hours may be restricted, says Wetherington, who suggests those who wish to attend check the schedule as posted on the fair's web site: www.pcyf.net.