BY SHERI TRUSTY
The Ottawa County Fair has created exciting new changes for area boys and girls that is adding fun and inclusivity to this year’s festivities.
In early July, before the fair opened, a Gaga Ball pit was constructed in the Oak Harbor fairgrounds to give Junior Fair kids something to do during the slow hours during fair week.
Carter Lumber donated the boards and bolts for the project, and the remainder of the materials were funded through the Kathy Booher Improvement Fund, administered by the Ottawa County Communities Foundation.
“Kathy was all about the kids. After she passed away, they created this fund to keep her memory alive,” said Molly Avers, 4-H Youth Development Educator.
The idea for the Gaga Ball pit was inspired when a 4-H Clover Bud asked Molly to build a playground at the fairgrounds because, she said, “There’s nothing for us to do.” When she realized that playground equipment was out of reach of the 4-H budget, Molly thought of Gaga Ball.
“We have one at 4-H camp, and the kids go crazy for it,” she said. “Anybody can do it. Sometimes, little kids beat the older kids, and it’s hilarious.”
On Thursday, July 20 at 4 p.m., the fair will go to the dogs, hosting its first ever dog show. Participants will be 4-H youths who chose dog projects this year.
“Katie Avers built obstacles and helped the kids practice A-frames, tunnels and jumping with their dogs,” Molly said.
On SAturday, July 22 at 1 p.m., the fair will host its first ever No Limit Livestock Show for youth with special needs. Mentees ages 10-18 will be paired with mentors with animals ages 12-18 to learn how to show an animal at the fair.
“They’re going to be partnered up and meet for about 45 minutes to talk about the animal – about the breed, its care, and how to show it,” Molly said. “Then they walk it together before judges. Every kid will walk away with a certificate, a medal and a t-shirt.”
Molly, a former teacher, was inspired to create the No Limit Livestock Show by her experiences in the classroom.
“I had kids with special needs in my class, and I absolutely loved them. I felt bad because there are not a lot of opportunities for them community-wide,” Molly said. “Hopefully, this will bring them into the fair for experiences they don’t normally get.”
The Ottawa County Fair continues through Sunday, July 23.