Justin Lockmiller, 15, a Curry County resident, talks about winning the Curry County 4-H project entries sweepstakes Thursday in the Home Arts building at the fairgrounds. Photo by Eric Kluth.
By Eric Butler
Have a large amount of wall space that needs covered? Perhaps a core group of 4-H kids can help you out.
After all, it is a relative small number of individuals who have contributed a significant proportion of the 532 entries that occupy one full wall of the Home Arts Building at the Curry County Fair.
That wall is home to the 4-H Project Entries, a collection of exhibits that range from photos of relatives and family pets to drawings of animals.
The winner of this year’s sweepstakes award is Justin Lockmiller, 15, who lives north of St. Vrain.
Lockmiller had less points than Amanda Riley, 13, of Clovis, but Riley wasn’t eligible to win the sweepstakes honor because she won it last year.
But there’s money to be had in these entries — and Riley fared just fine in that department.
“I think I’ll get over about $200,” said Riley, who will earn $4 for every first-place ribbon.
While some of her exhibits required a good measure of work — like one titled “Our Fair-tastic Clowns,” Riley said that many of her first-place winners took only “five-to-ten minutes to do.”
Lockmiller said his favorite exhibit was a photo essay of shots taken while he was watching a Texas Rangers baseball game in Arlington. “That’s probably my favorite, because it was from our vacation. It’s a good way for extra money.”
“We do this because some kids don’t have the opportunity or money to raise livestock,” said Glenda Belcher, home economist for the Curry County Extension office. “So this is their opportunity to make money like the livestock kids do.”
It’s also an avenue to compete in larger fairs.
The first-place winners get to compete at the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque, while second- and third-place entries have the opportunity to be entered at the Eastern New Mexico Fair in Roswell.
While the kids may consider the 4-H projects as far superior to, say, a paper route — in terms of time spent working and money earned — Belcher said the competitors may be overlooking some aspects of the process.
“It costs a lot of money to make the posters and to do some of those projects,” Belcher said. “But, the deal is, they learn a lot from it as well.”