CIRCLEVILLE — Despite the challenges that this year has brought to the fair, one club has an extra reason to celebrate this year.
The Darby Fine & Dandy 4-H Club is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. The club is the sixth-oldest club in Pickaway County.
Debbie Bush and Anita Kitchen co-advise the club and both have children in the club currently.
“We’ve only been advisors for four years and we see how the friendships and support of families that we didn’t know until we came together as this club,” Kitchen mentioned. “I can only imagine 75 years ago, that’s why it keeps going because, generation after generation, all these families have become friends and family to each other. We stick together and support each other. I think that’s why it’s lasted.”
Kitchen, who put together the club’s booth this year, shared what she’s learned by looking at some of the rosters dating back to that first year of the club and more.
“Darby Fine & Dandy became a club off of two other clubs,” she commented. “They became a more diverse club because they didn’t have livestock at the time.
Bush said people watch the kids just because they were members of the club in their youth.
“We go to church and have news articles people have saved for us because they have been following us and they support Darby Fine & Dandy,” she told The Circleville Herald. “The community support around us is everlasting. Old advisors are always asking about the kids. It makes you feel good to have that support and it’s from people that a lot of these children don’t even know.”
Bush said being in the club isn’t just about showing animals at the fair, it’s about picking up life skills, like her son who learned how to cook through 4-H.
“My son is 16 and he learned to cook through the program and now he’s not afraid to cook,” she added. “I love that about it because it give the kids a chance to learn life skills.”
Kitchen said the same thing about her oldest son who has picked up welding.
“It’s a trade that is awesome to know and he can use that later,” she said. “Even with public speaking, it helps kids come out of their shell. It’s required, but it helps them later on in life to not be so scared.”
Bush said the kids in the club have developed a special bond since many of them don’t go to school together.
“You get that bond just like you would in sports or anything else doing the things we do, like community service, when we can,” she explained. “This year has been different, but we’ve tried to organize things for them as best as we can. 4-H is a wonderful thing.”
Bush and Kitchen said it was great that they are able to be at the fair this year to have the club members show off their work.
“These kids worked so hard on their projects,” Kitchen mentioned. “They’ve been cooped up and my boys needed to have some interaction. It gives them some kind of normalcy since they didn’t get to finish out their school year.”
Bush said it meant a lot to be able to finish the project at the fair after spending the time working on it.
“They’ve worked hard and we’ve pushed them to make sure they’re working on their projects and to give them hope for the fair,” Bush remarked. “It was hard for them to stay focused, and it wasn’t just in our club. I’m glad it followed through.
Bush gave a nod to the parents of many of the club members
“We have really great parents that help out and support the club including (Kitchen) and I,” she stated.
Currently, the roster stands at 25 kids for Darby Fine & Dandy.
“That’s a great number to be with them personally and help with their projects,” Bush explained. “Ultimately, the projects they do, we advise them, but they do on their own. That’s what 4-H is about.”
Several members of the club currently, Audrey Wallace Elmer Kitchen, Dalton and Dominick Bush shared their thoughts on this year’s fair and what it means to them to be a part of the 75th year for the club.
“To be in a 4-H club that’s lasted this long is exciting,” Dominick Bush, who is president of the club, said.
Kitchen mentioned friends, family and 4-H in general for his reasoning behind choosing Darby Fine & Dandy. Wallace said for her, it came down to family as well.
“A lot of people in my family have done it, so I did it too,” Wallace said.
This year has been a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdowns.
“We’ve not been able to have our meetings like usual to try to put everything together,” Dominick Bush said. “It’s been really challenging.”
However, the club members, all nodding in approval, said it was great to be able to participate in the fair this week.
“I think it’s amazing because we’re able to show our projects unlike other fairs that have been canceled,” Dalton Bush concluded.