ESCANABA - One had only to look at the assortment of handiwork on display in the Youth Exhibit Department at the U.P. State Fair to determine that the youngsters are fully capable of doing some very quality work. Displays ranged from painting and drawings, photography, needlework, woodwork, posters, and a host of other types of craftsmanship.
According to Dave Radloff, Youth Development Educator for the Michigan State University Extension, the youth exhibits are submitted, not only by local 4-H Club members, but also by area school children and individual classrooms.
"The majority are 4-H but there's also classroom and individual exhibits as well," Radloff said. "It's open to anyone between the ages of 5 and 19."
Dorothy McKnight | Daily Press
David Radloff, Delta County 4-H Director, looks on as three 4-H members hang Youth Exhibits for display in the Community Arts Building at the U.P. State Fairgrounds in preparation for judging. Pictured are: from left, Marissa LaPorte, a member of County Line Lambs 4-H Club; Pierce Mayville, WormCo 4-H Club; and Jim Smith, Delta Sure Shots 4-H Club.
One major difference in judging the youth art is that the "Danish System" is used.
"The Danish System is different from the open judging that goes on in the rest of the building," Radloff explained. "Each item is judged on its own merit. There's not only a 1-3 rate in each category and that's all that can win. In the Danish System, you can have numerous first-place winners."
Radloff said he likes the Danish System better, adding, "I feel the Danish System of judging lowers the competitiveness," he said. "The kids are judged by their showmanship, workmanship and their creativity and you can possibly have as many first-place winners as second-place winners."
Beverly Nault and Sandy Dewar, who were in charge of judging the classroom exhibits, were vastly relieved when they learned they didn't have to judge each individual painting and drawing in an art exhibit. All of the artwork was judged as one individual entry.
Radloff, however, expressed disappointment that the number of exhibits - particularly in the classroom entries - is going down from year to year. This year there was only one. Although he can't say specifically, he feels there isn't the sufficient time and encouragement required to get the teachers and youngsters involved.
Radloff said he works extensively with the Bonifas Fine Arts Center to secure entries for the fair. When school children enter their artwork for judging at the Bonifas Center in the fall, they are entitled to fill out a form to include their artwork at the fair the following summer.
"There were 98 entries in the Youth In Art exhibit last fall," he said. "And the best part is that the teachers don't even have to round up the stuff and get it here. The Bonifas people do it for them."