Region 3’s Judge It! Day holds a long history in 4-H circling back to when it was run by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and was called the Peterborough Junior Day and held at the Peterborough Fairgrounds. This event has always attracted large crowds from members all across the region, sometimes on the low end with 60 members, but many times attracting over 120 members. This typically depended on where the event was hosted, as after some sponsorship ended, the nine Region 3 counties took turns hosting the event. Through an inter-region naming competition, Jane Johnson of the Durham West 4-H Association came up with the new name, Judge It!. Despite its long history, participation had been declining over the last few years and the event had to be cancelled in 2015.
In a judging competition participants are asked to judge six classes of four samples. These classes consist of the 4-H projects that were of interest in the prior year, such as livestock classes, crop classes and many others. Participants have to use critical thinking in order to decipher which sample in the class is the best, and which one is the worst. Participants have scorecards available to them to help them assess the most important features of a class in order for them to choose their top choice. They are able to take away public speaking, social, leadership and sportsmanship skills as they work as a team and compete amongst others.
Maria Davis of Durham West still holds fond memories of her time as a 4-H member at Peterborough Junior Day and is a recent member of the Durham West board.
“I really enjoyed the program and the rivalry with different members from different counties,” she says. “It was always a great time and I wanted to help make it that way again for young members.”
During a regional meeting a plan was put in place to revive Judge It! and rather than rotate it through different counties, they would keep it at the same place and date for at least five years and evaluate how attendance was effected. This proved to be extremely successful in the first year back, with over 100 members participating. The competition saw Diane Jeffs claim Top Overall Judge honours.
“I believe the event was so successful this time because as a board of volunteers we really pushed for participation from our own counties,” says Davis. “A couple of counties even had a bus hired to bring them. I think it was a great effort by parents and volunteers to get the event back on its feet that really was the success.”
Judge It! was held at the Orono Fairgrounds in Durham East County which is central to all of the nine counties in the region. The event was made shorter through the use of improved record placing technology and the fairgrounds is also a large open space with a public pool, ideal for hot days and a cool down. Held on the last Tuesday in July, this will continue moving forward to allow for better planning and promotion.
Davis says she enjoys being a part of 4-H because it was such a big part of her youth, her entire family was involved and it was something she looked forward to doing in the summer.
“I met many great friends that I still have in other counties through the various camps and competitions and I enjoy being a part of something that has such a strong history,” she says. “I enjoy being a part of Judge It! because I didn’t want to see it disappear. I have always loved to judge and think that it is such an important and fun part of the 4-H program.”