Douglas County has deep roots in agriculture and livestock raising. With the Douglas County Fair & Rodeo opening on July 31st, let’s take a closer look at one lively aspect of the fair – 4-H.
4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. The organization is about as old as the Douglas County Fair (a century). Agricultural university programs nationwide partner to help youth build hands-on skills, responsibility, citizenship, and leadership. Many people associate 4-H with farming and agriculture, but today’s focus goes beyond that to include STEM education.
Footage from the Past
County and state fairs are a hot spot for 4-H programs, in which youths from ages 5 to 18 participate in contests from goat raising and gardening to cake decorating and handmade fashion. Douglas County 4-H even has a rocket contest! Historically, animal contests have been a popular choice. This footage
dating to the 1950s and 1960s shows 4-H and Douglas County Fair events, especially livestock contents. You can also get a glimpse of a lasso spinning performance, a school band in the Douglas County Parade, livestock judging, bull-riding, and the Douglas County High School square dancing team.
Contests in sewing and dress-making and sewing were also front and center in 4-H. Darlee Mikelson won the Colorado State Fair Dress Revue in 1953 and got to travel the Douglas County Fair’s parade in style. These photos to the left show Darlee’s handmade outfit
and her moment in the spotlight
on the back of a Ford Sunliner convertible during the parade.
Skiing to Victory
Sometime between 1955 and 1960, Frances Bos and Carolyn Stricker were 4-H Dress Revue reserve champions
(runners-up). Francis Bos, on the left, made her own skiing outfit! Fitting for a Coloradan. The woman in the middle is Elizabeth Larson, a teacher.
A Cowboy from Down Under
4-H was so popular in the early 1960s that International Farm Youth Exchange Delegate Peter Gill flew in from Spalding, South Australia to mentor Douglas County’s rural youth. He stayed with the Lowell family (Castle Rock), who have deep roots in Douglas County 4-H, and the Higby family (Greenland)
. By all accounts, he was a fun guy!
Douglas County News, May 17, 1962
Douglas County News, May 10, 1962
Douglas County News, May 31, 1962
It was a great way for rural youth with shared interests to meet. Club members attended camp from across the county, and even the state.
Learn more, join 4-H, or visit the Fair!
Douglas County Fair & Rodeo