Road to the county fair: For Halleys, 4-H means family | TheFencePost.com

Road to the county fair: For Halleys, 4-H means family

Samantha Fox

Between caring for and showing livestock at 4-H shows, Cole and Jordan Halley spend their time with their family.

They have each other and their parents, but it's more than blood that brings family together for the Halleys. It's 4-H.

"Everybody that shows — even if you don't know them — are family," Jordan said.

And it's a family that grows every year at almost every show. Jordan is friends with people from different states, like Tennessee, because of national and state fairs. When Jordan brought up a friend she made at a fair in Arizona, Cole, 11, badgered her, saying the name "Cody" in a singsong voice. That drew a withering stare from his little sister.

After the boys left the room, Jordan called Cody her boyfriend, but her mom quickly shut the idea down. Jordan is only 8, after all.

Halley parents Gail and Alan were part of 4-H growing up as well, in the Weld and Morgan county clubs, respectively.

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And now Cole and Halley grow up side-by-side with the same families Gail and Alan did.

"To have their kids grow up with our kids is fun," Gail said. "Otherwise, they wouldn't know each other if they didn't all show."

Depending on the fair level, Gail and Alan see the fellow 4-Hers they've known most of their lives.

"That's what's fun about national shows and (Colorado) State Fair is you've got the county folks that you live with everyday, but when you go to State Fair and some of the national shows, you compete against the same families that you knew when you were a kid, " Alan said. "To have them there and see the success of their kids is fun."

Even now that 4-H is part of the day-to-day for the Halleys, a few years ago Cole was hesitant about participating. Alan said they won't force their kids to participate, but they did want Cole to try it at least once. His parents made him a deal — if he tried it and didn't like it, he wouldn't have to continue.

"If they want to be in 4-H, we're there to support them and even push them a bit," Alan said. "But if it got to the point where they didn't want to do it or they weren't enjoying it, even, we'd probably be done … it's not something you can do half-hearted."

Despite his initial hesitation, the experience has been good for Cole. As he embarks on his third year, his interest and interpersonal skills have increased. That's thanks to the family atmosphere of 4-H.

"We have a lot of fun with our friends and stuff between shows," Alan said. "It's what's enjoyable about 4-H. It's not just our family. It's other families."

Samantha Fox is a reporter and designer for The Fence Post. "Road to the county fair" is a weekly column series that includes six Weld County 4-H participants as they prepare and compete at the 2016 Weld County Fair. Reach Samantha at sfox@thefencepost.com or connect with her at @FoxonaFarm on Twitter.