Statewide virtual showcase provides opportunity for Michigan youth to shine

Michigan State Fair and Michigan State University Extension partner to provide online showcase and scholarships for youth.

Girl with rabbit.

While returning to in-person events this summer, the Michigan State Fair and Michigan State University Extension are taking an online success from the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing it back in 2021. Once again the two organizations are teaming up to offer the Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase. This online experience provides a virtual platform for any Michigan youth to exhibit their work in all project areas and apply for $10,000 in scholarships.

“We launched the Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase last summer to offer Michigan youth an opportunity to demonstrate their skill, mastery and hard work at a time when many of the traditional opportunities to showcase their projects were cancelled,” said Jake DeDecker, state 4-H leader with MSU Extension. “We were thrilled by the participation in the event and are grateful to continue partnering with the Michigan State Fair this year to provide this statewide platform for recognition and another opportunity for youth to obtain valuable feedback for personal development.”

Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase logo

In total, more than 400 youth from 63 Michigan counties took part in the 2020 event, showcasing more than 2,000 different projects. In addition to the remarkable participation numbers, positive feedback from individual participants helped event organizers determine the showcase should be continued in 2021.

“I have always dreamed of competing at the Michigan State Fair, but due to distance that was not possible,” said 2020 Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase participant Rebecca Havelka. “The positive in this whole [COVID-19] experience is that I had the ability to compete virtually at more shows then I could have ever imagined. Thank you so much for making this possible!”

Registration for the Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase is currently open through August 23. To participate, youth will enter photos and videos of their individual projects through the online FairEntry platform. Any Michigan youth, aged 5-19, is encouraged to participate in this free event; prior participation in 4-H is not required.

There are a wide variety of participation options, and youth may enter as many classes as they wish. Project areas range from traditional classes like showmanship, breeding and market classes for livestock and companion animals, to still exhibits such as crafts, creative writing and baking. Youth may also enter projects that are not normally showcased in a typical fair by submitting educational projects, demonstrations and more in areas such as shooting sports, urban agriculture and leadership, among others.

In addition to the opportunity to showcase their skills and receive accolades for their hard work, participants in the statewide event will also have the opportunity to apply for $10,000 in scholarships, generously provided by the Michigan State Fair and in partnership with the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

“A major focus within our event has always been giving back to the community and encouraging the educational and personal development of Michigan’s youth,” said Blair Bowman, Michigan State Fair manager. “We are thrilled that we will be able to continue and expand upon that tradition through this virtual platform.”

Exhibits entered into in-person fair experiences may also be entered into the statewide showcase; however, prior exhibition is not required. Evaluation of Michigan State Fair 4-H & Youth Virtual Showcase projects will begin on August 24, with winners announced during the Michigan State Fair, September 2-6.

To learn more about the event and view individual class opportunities, visit extension.msu.edu/MSF4HShowcase. To register for the showcase, visit MichiganStateFairYouthShowcase.fairentry.com.

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