The celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Jr. Fair kicked off Saturday, Aug. 3, with free admission to the Hartford Fair.
The Hartford Fair, known as "The Biggest Little Fair in the World," runs through Aug. 10 in Croton.
Lisa McCutcheon, Licking County extension educator, said fairgoers should see the anniversary theme in various ways during the eight-day run.
A few 4-H clubs were expected to decorate floats with a 75th anniversary theme in the opening-day parade, she said.
"We'll probably have several 4-H booths that will have a focus on the 75th," she said. "We don't know what they're planning to do until construction gets under way. Between the 4-H center, horse barns and arts and crafts building, that's where we'll see the theme come through."
Because Licking County doesn't have a county fair, the Hartford Jr. Fair includes exhibitors from all of Licking County, as well as portions of Delaware and Knox counties.
The Licking County Jr. Fair was added to the program in 1938. From that time on, the majority of the growth of the fair has been with youth organizations, and it has centered on their activities.
McCutcheon said five 4-H clubs are new this year for a total of 74 clubs participating in the 2013 fair.
One of the new clubs is the Horse & Hound 4-H Club, with youths from the Johnstown and Northridge school districts.
"I was an adviser for Bits-N-Bridles for seven years, and when my son moved out of Cloverbuds, he wanted to do dogs," said Kim Rahde, Horse & Hound adviser. "We have five members from three families. I've got three members taking horses.
"Ironically, my son isn't taking a dog to the fair. We did a dog clinic in the spring. I think he got overwhelmed. As for my daughter, fair is the highlight of everything."
Alex Rahde, 13, is taking horses to the fair.
"I've been in 4-H for eight years now," Alex said. "I've taken horses almost all my years in 4-H. I've done dogs a few times."
Alex said she had to complete a workbook for her project, as well as the hands-on care of her pony, Zoey.
"The whole project is to get a closer bond to your horse," she said. "I own a quarter pony mare. I feed, water and work with her all year."
She said it's amazing to compete at the fair.
"It's a huge honor to be present at the fair with the horse and do well," Alex said. "It shows people I got this far with my own horse."
Kim Rahde said she's happy about the club.
"It's a great group of kids," she said. "They"re what 4-H is about. It's great to see the kids in there who have worked so hard. Horses are one of those projects where you work all year for fair.
"In a generation that's so technology-driven, it's good to see something so hands-on. I think it makes for good, healthy kids."
Another new club is the Country Clovers 4-H Club, co-advised by Lucinda Miller and her daughter, Jessica Caughlan. The Croton-based club includes students from the Northridge and North Fork schools.
"I've always been involved with 4-H," Caughlan said. "My mom was an extension agent in Pike County in southern Ohio. We've been here two years and thought it would be good to volunteer."
"We have six hogs, four rabbits, and the rest are special-interest projects," Caughlan said. "4-H to me is about growing the youth into good leaders of the future. That's one thing I got out of 4-H, was leadership skills and being a well-rounded person. It prepares youth for the future and teaches responsibility."
In addition to the five new clubs, McCutcheon said, four 4-H clubs are 75 years old or older. They are Purity Anti-Can't, 86 years; Purity Livestock, 85 years; Licking County Jersey, 85 years; and Newton Junior Farmers, 75 years.
Licking County Jersey advisor Stacey Atherton said her club is one of only two dairy groups in the county.
The 30-strong club includes youths from Heath, Newark, Utica and Johnstown.
Atherton's great-grandfather, Jim Shipley, was a club founder.
"We're mostly a dairy-feeder club, but we also have rabbits, chickens and pigs," she said.
Atherton, a fourth-generation club adviser, is in her fifth year of leading the club.
"I think 4-H and Jr. Fair are about coming together," she said. "I also had a passion for animals and showing in the fair. It's about getting together, having fun and learning more about showing."
Atherton said 4-H gives club members an opportunity to hang out at the fair, too.
"Most kids in my club are like when I grew up," she said. "We didn't go on vacation. Fair was our summer vacation and important to our family. For most kids, it's a weeklong thing. They stay there and care for the animals all week long.
General admission to the 155th Hartford Fair is $6. For a complete schedule, visit hartfordfair.com.