Like many farm kids, avid swine showman Bailey Kemp is looking forward to the summer months of exhibiting at fairs across the state. However, this year she will be driving her hog around a different show ring, one she helped create.
Bailey is excited to be a part of the inaugural Callaway Youth Expo, which will be July 10-13. "It will be fun to have all the youth together," she says. "At the county fair, we would show on different schedules and we were housed in different barns. Now we will be all under one roof. I hope there will be a sense of community, where we all come together."
The theme of the expo is "Our County. Our Expo. Our Turn," signifying how involved the youth are in the planning and operation of the event. Previously, youth exhibited their livestock, 4-H and FFA projects at the Kingdom of Callaway Youth Fair. However, this year the youth division separated from the fair and relocated to the expo.
A sense of community
Parents and community youth supporters joined forces with the youth to oversee the logistics of a new expo. "It was a great opportunity for our youth to have ownership in their fair," expo executive committee member Chip Kemp says. "The youth created their own board and attend meetings. They have a say in what will go on at the expo."
He says the event builds leadership skills. Already, the youth board took responsibility for trash clean up, a buyer's dinner and t-shirt design.
While the expo will offer the traditional livestock events like showing cattle, hogs, sheep and goats, it will also allow individuals to exhibit rabbits, poultry and horses. There will be a livestock and ham sale. However, the event extends far beyond agriculture.
"We want this to be a place where everyone can come and participate," Bailey explains. "It is not just about livestock." The expo board opened its membership to not only 4-H and FFA members, but also boy scouts, girl scouts, and church youth groups. "We wanted as many opinions on how this expo should run as we could get," she adds.
So far, the group has seen an overwhelming response. There will be teepees from the boy scouts, art exhibits and emergency service personnel. However, none of this would be possible without the help of the Auxvasse Lion's Club.
A place to call home
The Lion's Club offered the use of their park for the expo. "The Lion's Club is very youth oriented," says Lion's Club member Robert Simpson. "We are really pleased to work with the youth and have them here using our grounds."
In reality, Simpson says, it is as though the fair is coming home. In the 1970s, the county fair was held at the park. "It means so much to us that they are willing to offer their facility," Bailey says. "We are so grateful to have their support."
The Lion's Club allowed the group to erect wash racks for the livestock, one of a few things missing for a successful livestock show. "The Lion's Club has been great to work with," Chip adds. "They have given us a lot of latitude on what we can do with their facility. We are using every inch of the park to display anything from farm equipment, to 4-H and FFA projects. This expo will be truly a community-driven event."
There will be no charge to attend the Callaway Youth Expo. "We want people to come out and see what the youth of the county are involved in," Bailey says. "This is about recognizing the successes of our Callaway County youth regardless of what avenue they choose to find success," her father adds. "There are a lot of ways to be proud of our kids and their activities."