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The 4-H Club Cookoff that Could Cookout | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

The 4-H Club Cookoff that Could Cookout

Cracker Jack-topped cupcakes

Stormy weather doesn’t have to destroy a great plan and a good time.

Energetics, my kids’ 4-H club, chose a sports theme for this year’s club cookoff at the Vanderburgh County Fair, held on Saturday evening at the end of Fair Week. Clubs choose a theme, grill a menu, and serve 4 judges in a cookoff contest. Our club makes it bigger. We host a cookout for club members, parents, and even grandparents, to finish the fair in family style.


We take our themes seriously. This year, old green outdoor carpet was placed on the ground with a baseball diamond taped around the edges. A tent for the judge’s table was placed in the middle and decorated with helium balloons. Peanuts, popcorn in red and white bags, and crackerjacks decorated the table set with sports-themed plates and napkins. Sports foods were on the menu – brats, hot dogs, potato nachos, watermelon fruit baskets, and soft drinks in bottles. Kids in the club wore sports jerseys.

Thanks to the Millers who helped lead Energetics for 37 years.

We had an extra surprise this year. Two club leaders, Dan and Virginia Miller, were retiring after they had volunteered as club leaders for 37 years. We planned to present them with a thank you gift for their lifetime of service.

When we made our plans, we didn’t think about Mother Nature. An hour before the cookoff, weather reports began: heavy downpours were on the way. We kept cooking and preparing. Half an hour before our judging, the rain poured. With wind. Leaders held onto the sides of our two tents, working to prevent them from being blown away in the storm. Grandparents and members grabbed the lawn chairs and rushed them under the tents.  Grillers covered the grills.  Other clubs around the playground sought shelter in their entry tents as well.

Trying to keep dry during the downpour.

As we stood huddled under tents, we began to sing. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

The cookout was cancelled because of rain. We had 80 brats and hot dogs grilling and decided to make the best of the mess and eat. When the rain stopped, the Millers joined us. We presented them with their thank you presents and enjoyed our cookout meal. The judges still visited us to thank us for entering, so we serenaded them with “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

So the contest was cancelled. We’ll never know if we would have won best food, best theme, best dessert, or most spirit.

But we still won – our members learned to sing their way through a challenge like weather and not let challenges stop them from having a good time. And they probably became better friends with each other along the way.

Never let a little rain stop you from doing good things!

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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