Fair first-timer ready to compete

Lainey Church is just 8-years-old and making her first appearance as a 4-H competitor at the Allen County Fair. She's pretty calm for a newcomer.

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July 26, 2022 - 1:55 PM

While new experiences may be overwhelming for youngsters in a competitive format, not many have the nerves of steel like 8-year-old Lainey Church.

Church, a member of the Prairie Dell 4-H Club, is in her first official year of 4-H, and thus in her first year as a competitor for this week’s Allen County Fair.

Nevertheless, the daughter of Travis and LeAnn Church has kept an even keel as she enters her food, arts and crafts and clothing buymanship entries.

“I’m pretty calm about everything,” Church admitted Tuesday morning, shortly before meeting the judges for her clothing entry.

Church’s buymanship project is a primarily pink floral sundress with an occasional hint of periwinkle blue flowers — “my favorite colors,” she admitted.

Church found the dress at Kohl’s, and will wear it to church and to an upcoming father-daughter dance.

“I like the colors, and it’s comfortable,” she said. Her outfit is complemented with a pink corsage she wore at last year’s father-daughter dance.

Church already has received a blue ribbon for her arts and crafts entry, a colored wooden butterfly that eventually will hang from her “art wall” in her bedroom.

“She’s left-handed, and I’ve heard that left-handers tend to be more creative,” her mother noted. “That’s Lainey. We have a craft area upstairs, where she’ll just grab random supplies and start making things.”

Church, who occasionally helps her mother in the kitchen, will bake zucchini muffins and protein balls later this week as well.

WHILE THIS is Church’s first official year as a Fair entrant, she was a part of last year’s activities as a Cloverbud, or a participant still too young to be a full-fledged 4-H member.

Her older siblings had been a part of 4-H in the past, but soon gave that up because of summer sports commitments. LeAnn Church, the former LeAnn Nelson, was a fixture at the Allen County Fair as a youth as well, through the Square B 4-H Club.

Here, her daughter has found a creative outlet through the fair.

“I like having fun and making new friends,” Lainey said.

Church will be a third-grader at Crest Elementary School in the fall.

Outside of the fair, she enjoys playing sports like softball and basketball.

“I like running,” she added, “but I’m not old enough to do that yet.”

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