By Joseph L. Murphy
Long before the gates opened for visitors to the Boone County fair volunteers, parents and youth congregated in the community building to have their time in front of the judge. Everything from jars of jam to photo prints of dogs passed through the doors of the building.
The photos, food and other items like clothing are called static displays in the world of 4-H and county fairs. But the work that youth put into the projects is anything but static. Non-static displays, like livestock, can steal the show at some fairs but to get the 360 experience a person should wander the isles of static projects to see what the next generation is accomplishing.
For Randy Souder, a 20 plus year veteran of the county fair circuit judging day is a time that he looks forward to every year.
"We're going to hold this one for consideration," Souder said while moving an elliptically shaped clock to a table behind him.
During his time at the Boone County Fair Souder was at the helm of the Science, Engineering, and Technology judging. Automotive, aerospace, biological, chemical sciences, computers, electrical and woodworking projects all passed through his table.
"Once you start judging it is hard to stop," Souder said with his patented smile.
Souder has experience in judging many of the static project categories and has been a judge for numerous counties during his career. This year he will judge in five counties.
"All of the fairs I'm judging will fall within three weeks, so my schedule is busy," he said. "Every day I get to judge I learn something and that is exciting for me."
For about 12 years Souder went to judges training school to learn about what makes a successful project in the food division, communications division and many others. That's when he said he was tapped by the ISU Extension to start teaching other judges.
"Clothing construction is one of my favorite categories to judge. Clothing is no different than following a pattern for woodworking," Souder said.
To be knowledgeable about all of the different project areas he judges Souder said he reads a wide variety of information.