48 years at the fairAug 3, 2017 By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer
Next spring celebrates the centennial of the 4-H Creed, a document written in Wyoming and later adopted nationwide.
While 4-H has a formal creed and pledge, perhaps its motto tells the club's intention most succinctly: "To make the best better."
Involvement in 4-H is usually the realm of children but it wouldn't be possible without capable, willing and involved adults.
When people dedicate their lives to helping children develop their talents it is something special. Virginia King is just such aperson.
King celebrated her 48thyear working at the Fremont County Fair this week. It was quiet in the exhibition hall as people moved slowly through the building viewing the food and fabric entries on display, giving King a few uninterrupted minutes to reflect on a lifetime working with children.
"I started March 9, 1969," King said. "I worked in the fair office, upstairs in the post office."
She was hired by Ross Baker as secretary of the extension office and worked there until her retirement in 1995.
"I've been volunteering ever since," King said. "I watch the kids grow. I'm in the third generation. I think 4-H is one of the best things for kids."
King worked in the early days with the Gardner and VonKrosigk families as an example of multi-generational 4-H connections.
She began with Greg, Brett and Kelly Gardner in the 1970s along with Wendell, Clint and Lori VonKrosigk then worked with their children and now is involved with their grandchildren.
Over the years King has noticed a change in the county fair.
"Parents are working more; they were more involved back then," King said.
The number of entries in many areas of the fair indicates a change as well. While numbers of cattle and hogs have diminished other areas have grown.
"The number of small animals has increased," King said.
Small animals include rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats, and those shows often bring many children to the fair, often to show for the first time as elementary age students.
The interview questions that King answered as part of her initial hiring process clearly display a change in the country over the last half-century.
"Hazel Leupold was the home demonstration agent in the office," King said.
"She asked me, 'Honey are you pregnant? Are you planning on being pregnant?' A question you wouldn't dare ask anyone today."
King has worked in nearly every aspect of the fair, as a secretary, clerk and sup ervisor.
Until this year she was in the hog barn and continues to work with fabric, food, photography and painting entries.
The changes in Fremont County since 1969 are dramatic. Mines have come and gone, oil, cattle and timber harvesting have waxed and waned, communities like Riverton, Lander and Dubois have grown while others like Jeffrey City have almost disappeared, but the fair goes on thanks to the dedication of people like King.
Jeffrey City once had a very active 4-H club, but this year only two entries came from the southeast corner of Fremont County, from Braxton Crofts and Laura Dockery.
King helped Dockery find a dress she made as part of her duties running the fabric show.
It doesn't matter to King where the kids are from, she works with all of them and thoroughly enjoys the interaction.
Tylynn McDonald, a young 4-H member, saw King and ran across the exhibition hall to give her a hug before asking her to take down a blue-ribbon apron that McDonald had sewn so they could both examine her work. It's all in a day's work, but also the work of a lifetime.