Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera District Fair junior fair board member, Nikki Sylvester, and her little sister, Lilly, who are members of Sierra Shadows 4-H practice their showing techniques.
With the Madera District Fair’s opening just a day away, preparations have had to be made for the scheduling of shows and displays, the placement of booths, and the planning of the layout of what tends to be the largest event to be held in Madera each year.
To assist with the work that goes into the preparations, the Madera District Fair has recruited six high school students to assist in getting the fair off the ground. These students, who make up the Junior Fair Board, were chosen in May.
“For years, the Madera District Fair has tapped into the youthful energy and enthusiasm of Madera County students in a group called the Junior Fair Board, to serve fair patrons through guest services and ushering,” said Madera District Fair events coordinator Barbara Leach. “Annually, up to 20 young people volunteer to serve and contribute to their growth in public relations and knowledge of California Fairs.”
The tasks performed by the board, according to Leach, have been broad, but they provide the board members with a wide range of skills that they can use long after school.
“With a term of six months, the depth of what selected Junior Fair Board Members have participated in has included planning meetings, training and assistance in public relations pre-fair through fair time, development in speaking skills, organization, and planning and execution of events.”
Being on the Junior Fair Board also adds appeal for these students when they apply for college.
This, according to board member Nicole Sylvester, 17, is one of the main reasons she joined. It also grants Sylvester, who is homeschooled, a chance to interact with people her age.
“It gets me a little more out there than I usually am,” Sylvester said.
As for junior board member Liam Cavaletto, it was an opportunity to help the fair, an event that he has participated in since childhood.
“I’d always been showing livestock at the fair for years,” Cavaletto said. “And I wanted a way to help out behind the scenes.”
At previous fairs, he has shown off dairy cattle, market sheep, market hogs, and goats.
The work of the Junior Fair Board has also helped influence the directions taken by the Madera District Fair. This included helping to bring up the prices of the goats to an amount more appropriate to their market value..
“The goat prices were extremely low, and so not a lot of people will want put money on goats at this fair,” Sylvester said. “And so now we were able to change it so that there will be more profit with it.”
At his interview to join, board member Edgar Garcia, a senior at Madera South, made a proposal for a new attraction for the fair, which has now been introduced.
“I brought up the idea of bringing technology to the fair, and now that’s a thing,” said Garcia. “We have technology at the fair, now.”
After high school, Garcia plans on entering UC Merced, where he wants to pursue a career in computer science and engineering. This experience has, according to Garcia, given him a newfound appreciation for the fair, and all the work that goes into planning, and running it.
The Junior Fair Board will see its efforts pay off starting tomorrow at 5 p.m., when the gates open to the public.