Strutting and posing across a stage Thursday night at Manhattan Town Center, Riley County youth donned outfits they’d assembled and created during the annual 4-H fashion revue.
From a handmade pair of overalls crafted from old jeans to an expertly crafted romper ensemble fit for casual and formal occasions alike, members had the chance to show off some of their work ahead of the Riley County Fair, which officially kicks off Thursday.
The clothing and textiles project served as a way for area youth to learn and hone their sewing and clothing construction skills, as well as help them understand how to put together budget-friendly, flattering outfits.
Near the end of the show, members were awarded for their presentation after being judged earlier in the day. Megan Dougherty, a Riley County Extension agent who helped organize the event, said the project helps kids become more conscious of their buying choices and for some in the construction phase, it may lead to future careers.
“The kids are super excited,” Dougherty said. “They’ve worked all year long on these projects and they get to finally get up and show not only judges, but their family, friends and the general population what they’ve been working so hard on. They show a lot of pride and joy in what they’ve made, and they’ve put a lot of work into it.”
The 2019 Riley County Fair Royalty were also crowned at the end of the show, naming Jonathan Hoepner, 17, and Kristina Powell, 18, as some of the next leaders of 4-H.
As royalty, some of their duties will include promoting 4-H, presenting ribbons at the animal shows at the fair, serving as youth representatives for the County Fair Board and helping club members become their own leaders.
Hoepner said receiving the honor felt like a good end to his 10 years in 4-H after it had developed him into a leader with communication and citizenship skills.
Hoepner said he submitted 13 projects in total to fair contests, one of which is a Mindstorm NXT, a programmable LEGO robot, in the robotics category.
“I challenge myself to do something different every year, something harder,” he said.
“This year I have it playing card games with whoever’s using it. It’s been hard but it’s coming along.”
Powell, a 12-year 4-H member, said through the organization, she has opened up and made valuable connections, and becoming a part of fair royalty solidified her experience.
“It feels amazing (because) ever since I was little, I looked up to fair royalty,” she said.
“I’d look at their pictures on the walls of Pottorf (Hall) and I just wanted to be them someday. They inspired me to try.”
Powell said she looks forward to showing off her three steers in the market beef contest.
“I’ve been showing ever since I was a cloverbud,” she said. “I started with bucket calves and I was super small. I’ve been involved in it forever and I love doing it.”