By Marie Meis
Elgin Review Staff Writer
Volunteers make the county fairs happen. Ask anyone who is involved in the fair and they’ll tell you there’s 50 times as much work to do than extension staff could do themselves.
Volunteers are club leaders and event superintendents. They are listening ears and hard workers. They are behind the scenes and they make sure the 4-H members have all it takes to be successful. And their names are Karin Kinney and Chris Redding.
Redding has been a 4-H volunteer since her first daughter Paige became 4-H age. She has served Antelope County as a volunteer and club leader for 22 years. Kinney took on the title of volunteer when her grandchildren became 4-H age nine years ago.
It’s hard to count the number of projects, events and lives they’ve impacted through those years. They are the leaders of the Way Out West 4-H club and Superintendents of Clothing. Their club holds monthly meetings where they work to have a focus or activity each time. This could be learning about health and nutrition from the Extension Agent or working to create signs with each person’s name on them to hang up in the barns during fair.
The club’s community service can be considered outstanding. They walk three miles of highway for trash pickup twice a year, gather and clean flowers at the cemetery to be donated to Bargain Box and help with fair clean up days, every single year.
“When you’re walking the ditches, you ask, ‘Are you ever going to throw trash out the window?’ And they say no and I hope they mean it. I hope walking a mile – and we have five-year-olds walking a mile – I hope that makes an impression on them. And part of being in 4-H is being a good citizen,” Redding said.
That’s also why they ask the families to work shifts in the concession stand and exhibit buildings during fair.
“I want the kids and the parents to know how much volunteer work it takes to put on the fair,” Redding said, “They’re not getting paychecks and that’s probably their vacation, and they’re working.”
She couldn’t be more right. It’s volunteers like herself and Kinney that help the exhibit building overflow with projects.
They are co-superintendents of clothing in Antelope County and Kinney has a list of kids she helps sew projects each year. This year, she has twelve seamstresses learning from her. She works with them through the whole sewing process, explaining each step and making sure they are prepared to interview with the judge.
Kinney told stories of young ones cutting through almost completely finished garments or dreading modeling in front of the judge. She also told stories of young girls turning into confident women, of awkward kids finding their passion.
“That’s our reward, to see those kids grow up,” Redding said. They both had tears in their eyes, recalling the growth they’ve seen through their years.
The two have planned meeting after meeting, organized style shows and displays, helped endless kids and given so many hours of their free time to Antelope County 4-H. They have dealt with changes throughout the years and worked to always make things better than they were before.
It’s people like these two that make 4-H what it is.
The two never look for recognition. They do their work because they believe in it.
Karin Kinney and Chris Redding are part of the reason why we can all look forward to another great year at the Antelope County Fair.