4-H County Fair - Cows

Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Information & Review

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The Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show is held every year the third week of July. For 2019, the show is July 21 through 26.

4-H County Fair - Horse Poster

Back in 2017 our writer Sarah researched the show and took her kids to share more information. Check out what she learned and read about her experiences.


What is 4-H?

Whenever I would try and give names to the 4 H’s in 4-H I could never get beyond: animal Husbandry and Horticulture. Then I would start making up words..Hens? Horses? Herbs? How can you make the word ‘crafts’ start with an ‘H’? What about quilting or sewing? How about cooking? What about science?

4-H Youth Show

I am mis-informed no more! The 4-H’s actually stand for: head, heart, hands, and health.

Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Report

Going to the 4-H Youth Show with my kids was such a treat. We met friends there which made it even sweeter. We were greeted with loud MOOOOOOing from the showing area. The kids were fascinated so we climbed up and sat in the grandstand for a while. If you don’t know what’s happening there are plenty of helpful folks willing to explain the judging criteria, schedule, rotations, etc. And if there is no one you care to ask then your kids will probably provide comical running commentary to keep you entertained. Trust me…my kids had me and all our bench neighbors grinning from ear to ear.

4-H Youth Show - Cows

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4-H Youth Show Events

Each day there are different judging events going on so check the schedule if there is something particular you want to see. The schedule can be found in the 2019 Youth Show Booklet.

The animals are there all week in their barns and pens whether they have finished showing or are waiting to be shown around so you needn’t worry if you’ve missed an event already.

From the cow show we walked around to the horse barns. My son heard them neighing and said, “mommy that horse said ‘neh, neh, neh’. Him laughing mommy!” And it did sound like he was laughing.

4-H Youth Show - Horse Poster

What stood out to me most were all the different paddock decorations. Apparently 4-H in Washtenaw County is done mostly through clubs and not as much in schools (especially at the younger ages). Most of the clubs are organized by theme or focus. Many of the 4-H horsemen belong to clubs that mainly focus on horsemanship. The decorations made the barn fun and fresh with all the colors.

You will also notice all the informational project posters. One of our favorites had pictures of different types of horses on panels that you open to reveal the names. We got to watch an owner giving their horse a shower and rub down.

4-H Youth Show - Horse Bath

We also got to watch an equestrian exhibition in the horse ring. My kids learned the terms Canter, Trot, and Grandstand. If you watch a show in this area of the grounds be sure to look for a faint orange line in the grass. No one is allowed to approach beyond it so that the horses and riders are not distracted. This is where we decided to eat our dinner. There were quite a few tents set up that provided shade while we watched a wonderful show.

4-H Youth Show - Horse Show

Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Exhibits

We took the opportunity to walk through Building A to see the handiwork pieces. Pieces included: sewing, photography, pottery, knitting, felting, wool hand soap, jewelry, woodworking, sketching, painting, baking, cooking, canned goods, and more. There were also garden vegetables brought in to display alongside some planters full of fresh herbs and flowers. Be sure to check out auction items. There are some great items to bid on.

In the furthest building we got to see rabbits, hens, ducks, and a standout…the albino turkey! He is quite a surprise when you round the corner from the hens.

Our last stop before leaving was the goat and llama tent. There are no alpacas which surprised me (since I thought some of the smaller llamas might be alpacas). Find a cool llama owner to explain the difference to you. We loved getting to pet one of the llamas with the owner’s encouragement and we loved seeing the baby goats with their mamas. My kids also saw a pig pushing his food bowl to the other side of the pen so that they could snuggle their pig friend. They thought it was especially cute.

Ann Arbor 4-H County Fair - Goats

Overall I give the experience a solid FIVE STARS. We went in the evening on a beautiful breezy day. It was not hot in the barns or outside. There is a lot to see but not so much that it is overwhelming.


Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Tips

Bring cash for food. They do not take credit cards. All proceeds go to benefit 4-H.

2017 Menus are shown below:

In 2017 they had colorful rocks around the fairgrounds. When you found them, you could return them to the llama tent. I don’t know if this activity will return for 2019.

4-H Youth Show - Llama Rocks

There are informational posters everywhere. These kind of fade into the background because the animals are so captivating but they are full of fascinating fun facts for all ages.

The whole event is very wheelchair or stroller friendly.

My only caution would be the loud announcements and narration of events if your child is sensitive to sound. It can be loud even if you are outside of the event areas.

Wear shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

If your child likes to touch everything (like my 2 year old) the displays inside Building A are not the best idea.

Get a chocolate shake (see my comment under the food section)


Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Food

We got Walking Tacos and Pizza. You can order from the outside window or the inside window. For those of you who are gluten free or dairy free there was a lady working in the kitchen with these allergies who was very helpful. I am GF/DF and got a walking taco with sloppy joe meat, lettuce, and tomatoes on Fritos. Super yum! The prices were super reasonable.

Chocolate shakes: Each time we went up to the tent for food, and then water, and then more food (what can I say, I have boys) there was at least one person ordering a chocolate shake. I don’t know what was up with those shakes but everyone wanted them. I am dairy free and I couldn’t taste them so you should for me!

Feel free to eat as you walk or sit under the big red and white striped tents that are set up for this purpose. There are tables, chairs, and garbage cans handy.

4-H Youth Show - Tents


There are bathrooms in Building A (access is next to the food stand windows). The outside entrance to the bathrooms is not very obvious. They are to the right of the food stand window. The blue door (unlabaled) is the men’s room. There is a small sign that says ‘Ladies’. A second set of bathrooms is towards the back of the fairgrounds in a building behind the goat and llama tent. There are water fountains at both places too.

4-H Youth Show - Bathrooms & Food


2019 Ann Arbor 4-H Youth Show Schedule

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Daily Highlights

While there are activities and exhibits to see throughout the show, I picked some highlights of activities each day. There are plenty more throughout the day. Be sure to check the book for the full schedule.

  • Sunday, July 21
    • 5:30p Youth Show Opening Ceremony Ring 1
  • Monday, July 22
    • 9a-1p Dog Obedience Rally
    • Horse & Pony events in Ring 1 all day
    • 3p – Cat Show in Activity Tent
  • Tuesday, July 23
    • 8a Horse & Ponies Over Fences
    • 9a Llama Showmanship Building B
    • 1:30-4:30p Dog Showmanship & Costume Contest
  • Wednesday, July 24
    • noon Creative Cupcakes in Large Tent
    • 2p Goat Skill-A-Thon
  • Thursday, July 25
    • 8a Horse & Pony Hunt
    • Dog Demonstration (time TBD)
    • 10a Horse & Pony English/Western Riding Pattern
    • 6-8:30p Small Animal Silent Auction Building B
  • Friday, July 26
    • 8a Horse & Pony Gymkhana & Costume Contest
    • 9a Rabbit Skill-A-Thon
    • 1p Archery Contest – South Field
    • 2:30p Ag Olympics – Building B

Editor’s Note: If you can’t make the 4-H Youth Show, consider attending the Saline Fair. There are also animal exhibits during the fair.

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