GREENVILLE — There’s no doubt children throughout the area are intensely preparing for the fast approaching Montcalm County 4-H Fair, whether they are showing animals, working on crafts or honing a special skill.
But for one night, 4-H members were placed on the center stage not to earn ribbons for animals or agricultural work, but for unique talents of their own.
During Thursday night’s 4-H Style Review and Performing Arts show at Jesus Non-Denominational Church in Greenville, more than 15 4-Hers 9 and older performed acts consisting of singing, dancing, performing on instruments and other skills.
Rebecca McCafferty , the event organizer and 4-H program coordinator for Montcalm and Ionia counties, said the event is a opportunity to put youth in the spotlight outside of normal 4-H activities, allowing them to grow and work on self confidence.
“This show offers a chance to demonstrate things they may not be able to show off at other various 4-H events,” McCafferty said. “But this is also a learning opportunity for them to stand up in public, sing a song, which not many kids at that age want to do.”
McCafferty said though the talent show is fun, it is really about teaching kids important life lessons and skills, even if they don’t realize it is happening while performing on stage.
“One thing 4-H really tries to do is help kids with life skills, not just the responsibility of taking care of an animal, but things like the showmanship of standing in front of a judge, talking to that judge and telling them about their projects and working on interview skills,” she said.
Each act of the night was judged by two judges with awards handed out at the conclusion of the talent show.
From a flute solo to a song sung in Italian, there was a wide variety of acts performed throughout the night, such as 12-year-old Travis Carlson’s impressive performance of his taekwondo routine.
Carlson displayed various kicks and punches, all with the discipline he has learned through two years of taking taekwondo classes.
“It all started in the summertime one year and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Carlson said. “I hope to become an instructor some day.”
Carlson said nothing was more enjoyable than standing on stage and smashing through several boards with his fists.
“The boards I broke tonight, it takes about a year of training to master the proper technique,” he said. “It hurts sometimes, but that all depends on which technique you use.”
For Elizabeth Thompson, 14, her vocal skills impressed the judges, as she sang “Amarilli, Mia Bella” by Giulio Caccini. Thompson said she enjoyed singing in another language, despite the challenges that came with it.
Thompson said it was more challenging because she had to learn parts of the language and other techniques such as stopping when there is a double consonant and rolling her R’s.
“You have to practice it in phases and really work on the pronunciation of words,” she said.
Judge Deanna Sweet said every act was impressive and it was tough to select the winners for each category.
“It takes a lot of nerve to get up and do this in front of people,” she said. “Everybody did a great job. These kids are so young and it was very impressive to see them come up here and perform like they did today.”