Fousek family finds ready-made friends in 4-H
Five years ago, the Fousek family moved from Amarillo, Texas, to Leavenworth. The family said they made more friends during their first year in Leavenworth than they did in their eight years in Texas, all because of 4-H.
"I'm rewarded with 4-H because the people in it are like family," said Becky Fousek, the mother of the family. "It gives us such a good sense that we belong and we haven't really been here that long."
The summer sensation of the 4-H program for Fouseks is the Leavenworth County Fair. And as the August event draws closer, Fousek's two children Amy and Trevor are getting ready.
"It's the highlight of everybody's summer," 16-year-old Amy Fousek said. "You know every single person on the fairgrounds and it's a major social event for me and my friends."
For the Fousek children, the fair is a lot more than just a way to hang out with friends.
Amy is involved in six events, ranging from arts and crafts to fishing. Trevor is involved in eight events from photography to rocketry.
Amy and Trevor each have events they like more than others, but they both agree on their favorite event horses.
"It's the only one I put into a category ahead of all the others," 14-year-old Trevor said.
The Fouseks have five horses Honey, Lady, Shadow, Sonny and Tex and they plan to enter four of them in the fair.
Amy and Trevor like to enter their horses Sonny and Tex in the speed competitions, such as barrel racing, because it allows them to be in control.
The horses aren't being judged on their pedigree or grooming, but on their race time. The two also ride their horses in the parade on Wednesday night.
"It's a yearly project," Amy said of raising horses. "Every day, it's something that never stops. There's a perfect horse somewhere that the judge compares these to."
Along with entering her horses, Amy enters crafts and clothing events at the fair and participates in leadership and fishing events as well.
For crafts, Amy said she usually finds something that appeals to her and then tries to make it.
This year she'll be attempting to make a wooden scarecrow as well as a tin-punched candleholder.
The ribbons and prizes are not what drive Amy to enter events at the fair. She just likes to be active.
"I know I'm not going to win so I just do it a lot for fun," she said. "I've won a little bit in the past but it doesn't really matter to me. I'm just having fun."
This year Amy has already won to a certain extent. She and Sonny have qualified to enter the speed competitions at the Kansas State Fair in September.
However, she just wants to have fun.
"The competition's there," Amy said. "I just don't get real involved in it."
Trevor is a lot like his sister. He doesn't build his rockets or shoot his air rifles for the chance of winning. He does it because he likes it.
Along with riding horses, rocketry and shooting sports are Trevor's favorites. Like Amy, Trevor doesn't really care about getting first.
"It's kind of stressful," Trevor said of participating in the shooting sports. "You shoot in front of an audience, but that's how it is with all the judges too."
Becky promises that all of the shooting sports are conducted with safety in mind. She also is proud of her children's attitudes about the fair.
The 4-H program in Leavenworth County is one of the largest in the state, and the Fousek's are as involved as anybody.
Whether it's March or July, they're looking forward to the fair. And in October, they're looking back on it.
"In 4-H you're never bored," Amy said.