4-H members show of their clothesmaking, buying skills

By Rose Schneider

Faith Evangelical Free Church was filled with girls and boys, ages 7 to 18, Thursday as 4-H club members competed against each other in fashion categories. Their goal was to showcase their skills in the construction of clothing and buymanship as part of this year’s Riley County Fair.

The fair doesn’t kick off officially until July 25, but events started July 13 with a 4-H dog agility competition. They will continue through next week with a horse show, woodworking projects and pet, food, photography and judging among many other showcases and activities.

Thursday’s event, the judging and fashion revue, was an all-day event divided into male and female categories with subcategories in clothing construction, buymanship and make-it-with-wool. Those categories were broken down again into junior, senior and intermediate levels.

“We have about 75 kids in the show,” said Ginny Barnard, extension agent for family and consumer sciences at Kansas State University. “The kids can purchase any two outfits to get judged on and can make up to six items, but can only model two.”

For many of the participants — regardless of age — this was not their first year wearing or making a project for the competition, which each individual had a full year to work on.

The children and teens were judged on how much they paid for the outfit, the level of their description of the set, what else can go with it, where they can wear it, how to take care of it and of course, presentation.

This is the third time 9-year-old Matthew Kelley has competed in the Riley County Fair Fashion Revue. He has done both buymanship and make-it-with-wool categories over the years.

“My mom usually signs me up,” Kelley said.

Last year Kelley won grand champion for his age bracket. This year he faced six other competitors in the junior buymanship category. 

Tyler Beckman, 12, has won both grand champion and reserve (second place) within the last three years for buymanship. This year he decided to wear his sheep show outfit (cowboy boots, jeans, a fancy belt buckle and a plaid blue button down) since his horse showing outfit, which was somewhat similar attire, won him the grand championship previously. This year he competed in the intermediate category.

“I already had it for my goat show,” Beckman said. “I might as well model it…blue is my favorite color.”

There was a lot more competition for the girls, and a lot more diversity among the outfits than with the boys.

For 11-year-old Elizabeth Wright, this was her fourth year competing in the revue. Although she’s never placed, her love of clothes has kept her interested in the competition year after year. In previous years she’s created dresses and a shirt and short set. She made another dress for this year’s construction competition, and also participated in the buymanship category.

“It took me two days to make my dress,” she said. “After I’d done it already it got easier to do and I can wear them for summer occasions.”

Lily Linville, 12, had also decided to make a fashionably functional outfit for this year’s clothing construction.

“When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer and design normal, wild and stylish outfits,” Linville said.

This year she created a pink floral skirt, wool skirt and wool bag.

“Kids have been working in the project area all year,” said Barnard. “This is their culminating event to show what they’ve learned; the judges will give them tips and tell them what they did well.”

Barnard said she’s seen just about every type of creation made by kids.

“Some use fabric, some with knit or crochet, others recycle materials, like turning a pair of jeans into a purse to be judged,” Barnard said. “The recycled material category is fairly new within the last couple of years.”

Garrison Olds, 18, and Emily Kelley, 17, the 2013 fair king and queen were also announced Thursday at the Fashion Revue.

Olds, who described himself as a “city slicker,” has been quite involved in 4-H over the last 12 years despite his non-country upbringing. He is the current president of the 4-H council and Little Apple and is a 4-H ambassador for Riley County.

“I ran for fair king to represent 4-H and influence younger 4-H to stay with it,” Olds said. “I want to encourage all kids to do 4-H; it is a great way to get involved in community service and leadership while boosting confidence to help shape the leaders of tomorrow.”

This was the first year Olds and Kelley ran for fair royalty.

“4-H has done so much for me, I just want to give back and promote it,” Kelley said. “I’ve learned a lot about people who are very different for me…it has been fun to interact with them through 4-H.”

Although Kelley is very excited, she is also very nervous about the experience as a whole. Some of her duties as fair queen will include talking on the radio, public speaking, handing out ribbons, riding in the parade and next year she will be responsible for reading during the public review of the fashion show.

Her advice for any other girls out there thinking about wanting to run for fair queen is “don’t let the nerves stop you from running.”

Olds was homeschooled and will be attending K-State in the fall to pursue a dual major in biochemistry and history. Kelley will be a senior at Manhattan High School in the fall. 

A complete schedule of this year’s Riley County Fair activities can be found by going to themercury.com.

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