A life-long learning opportunity … that’s what Alice (Shirley) Hodde of Sidney considers exhibiting at the Fremont County Fair in the Open Class department.
She said county residents can share their hard work and talents with others, get future ideas for a hobby or craft, and meet people who share similar interests.
The Fremont County Fair has been very important to Alice’s family.  She said the whole family was involved from the time her sister Barb was 15 and joined 4-H.
Alice and her brother Jim also got involved in 4-H with livestock and other typical 4-H interests.  They were active in the Sidney Skylarks and West Nishna Livestock clubs.
She said even her parents, Fountain and Esther Shirley, as well as her grandfather, Wallace Shirley, took adult roles in 4-H.  Wallace later was named an honorary 4-H’er at fair one year.
The county fair drew large numbers of people, Alice said.  With the population decline in the county, she has seen numbers drop in attendance and exhibits.
“Fair is a great time to come together,” Alice said.  “It is great for kids and adults to talk and gain a sense of community.”
With the population decline, Alice said fair in the summer truly gives residents of Fremont County a place to gather and reconnect.
When Alice became too old for 4-H, she still wanted a way to display her work and Open Class provided that opportunity.
Showing in the Open Class at fair has always been a family activity for her family.
She vividly remembers her mother getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. to dig potatoes and pick the flowers she wanted to show at fair.
Before she became busy with her own family, in the 1980s, Alice said she was an Open Class superintendent along with Norma Schaaf, Susan Fichter and MaryAnn Athen.
She continues to help in the Open Class building for the 2018 fair with the culinary exhibits.
When she enters items in the Open Class division at fair, Alice said she is proud of her hobbies and the work she is doing.  She wants to show others what she had made.
She doesn’t specifically think about what to enter in Open Class each year, but now and then when working on a piece, she does think, “Can I get it done before fair?”
Alice is probably thinking that now, as the 2018 Fremont County Fair is July 10-16 in Sidney.
Typically, Alice enters some type of handiwork or needlepoint into Open Class each year.  She has also brought flowers and culinary.
She hopes to enter her dinner rolls this year for fair as her family loves them, and she would like to learn what others think of them.
Alice’s husband, Lyle, also enters the Open Class photography division.  Now that he is retired from farming, she hopes he will think about taking more to the county fair.
Alice and Lyle knew each other through 4-H, she from Sidney Skylarks club and he from Hamburg P.E.P. club.
She remembers he came to her farm once when the 4-H clubs travelled around the county looking at different breeds of cattle.  They didn’t actually begin dating until after high school.
“I hope to encourage Lyle and my brother to enter more into the Open Class this year,” said Alice.
If everyone encouraged others to enter Open Class, she said, think about how many exhibits there could be!
Alice encourages all county residents to think about exhibiting at the fair this year in Open Class, especially the younger generation who might be done with 4-H, but still living in the county.
“Adults love to exhibit as well as youth,” she said.  “Be proud of your hobbies and bring something to the 2018 Fremont County Fair July 10-16,” encouraged Alice.
Exhibits are welcome in several Open Class divisions at fair from needlepoint and other handcrafts, to photographs, vegetables, antiques, flowers, wood carvings, paintings, scrapbooking and culinary.
For more information about the Open Class department of the 2018 Fremont County Fair, please contact the ISU Extension & Outreach office in Sidney at 712-374-2351.
If you would like a fair book with rules about Open Class and the divisions, please pick one up at the Extension Office at 610 Clay Street from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday-Friday or download one at www.extension.iastate.edu/fremont