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story.lead_photo.caption Home-grown vegetables entered in the Moniteau County Fair provide an additional source of color to the basement of Centennial Hall Aug. 10, 2019. Photo by Liz Morales / California Democrat.

The Moniteau County Fair Board, in conjunction with the California FFA chapter and Shamrock 4-H club, has decided to spend grant money from the Missouri Department of Agriculture to enhance the Moniteau County Fair.

Back in January, California's FFA and 4-H groups were part of a group of 21 recipients awarded the Building our American Communities grant by the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Each of the 2020 recipients will receive $500 to put toward their projects.

In California, the grant money will help in making a rabbit judging stand for children to use during the fair, as well as purchasing another bacon cooler. In the past, fair organizers have had to borrow a rabbit judging stand for use at the fair.

"We have a lot of youths who bring rabbits to the fair," Elaine Anderson, Moniteau County Engagement Specialist/4-H Youth Specialist, said. "They're brought up to the stand and with the judge standing there you want something level, so they can work easily and the kids are behind the rabbits. They learn about them — what their defects may be or how they may be better, and then they're given a ribbon."

During the fair, around 200 hams are brought in every year, and with bacon becoming a more popular project in FFA and 4-H groups, purchasing another cooler is a must. In the first year, there were only around 10-12 bacon projects, but last year, there were more than 20.

Anderson said she believes the projects children work on for the fair teach them valuable life lessons from learning how to describe their projects to learning how to talk to new people to getting used to speaking in public to big groups. These clubs not only give youth a community to be a part of, Anderson said, but also a place where they can mature and grow into young adults.

With the new additions, this year's fair — which runs Aug. 3-8 — should be a good one.

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