Hampton resident Genevieve (age 10) prepares to show her dwarf Nigerian goats at the Windham County 4H Fair on Aug. 3. Photo by Melanie Savage. (August 2, 2014)

Ten-year-old Genevieve, from Hampton, attempted to lead a pair of dwarf Nigerian goats by leash around the goat barn at the Brooklyn Fairgrounds. The pair, named Poppy and Rosie, refused to cooperate after spotting a roaming dachshund. Though the dog was perfectly civil and minding his own business, Poppy and Rosie clearly didn't trust him, as they backed themselves against a bench, wary eyes fixed resolutely on the canine intruder. Genevieve was getting her pair ready for goat judging at the Windham Country 4H Fair, which took place the weekend of Aug. 1-3.

"You have to train them to walk with a show collar, and wash them so they'll be clean," she said. "They're judging how I can handle them, and how they behave for me."

Columbia resident JoJo, age 9, lugged a heavy bucket of water across the barn to the stall of her lamb, a 4-month-old male Southdown. "He's a really good show sheep," said JoJo, demonstrating the lamb's ability to set his feet. The lamb, named Bow, had already won three first places, a medal, a trophy and a championship ribbon, according to JoJo. "He walks straight. He did really well," she said, adding that Bow's only mistake had been butting her with his head during showing.

The fair constitutes 4H Club members' annual showcase, according to Mackenzie White, a UConn Extension program aide. "They all have certain projects throughout the year," she said. "For most of them that's their animals."

Members are required to keep tract of their experiences, logging expenses such as feeding, hoof trims, etc. The 4H Fair acts as a precursor to larger events. A 4H member must earn a blue ribbon at the club event to qualify to attend the Big E, according to Windham County 4H Program Coordinator Marc Cournoyer. Members who don't keep animals might be involved with activities such as food, crafts, and photography. Kids in after-school clubs might learn skills such as leadership and citizenship. "Not every project is necessarily going to be shown off at this fair," said Cournoyer.

For the members who do work with animals, top performers are entered, near the end of the fair, in a showmanship championship. The event requires them to show a variety of animals, some of which they might not handle regularly. This requires club members to work together to pick up knowledge and handling skills.

"I think that's my favorite part of the fair, where they're out there teaching each other," said Cournoyer. The championship offers an opportunity to learn about a variety of species. "And it's good for them to teach each other about their species," said Cournoyer.

For more information about Windham Country 4H, go to http://www.extension.uconn.edu/pages/department../windham/.