A one-day wonder — 4-H creates a ‘town’ to celebrate centennial

It will be the shortest-lived ‘town’ in Alberta history — but there’ll be a lot happening in Cloverville during the few hours of its existence.

Cloverville, which will come into being the morning of Jan. 7 and last until into the evening, is how 4-H Alberta’s Southern Region plans to mark the centennial of the organization in this province.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of any organization,” said Andy Pittman, chair of the Southern Region’s centennial community.

“As we sat around and brainstormed back in our first meeting way back in February, we talked about what is important in 4-H. And one word that continued to come up was community. It’s in our pledge and it’s part of our mentality. So because of that, we decided to create our own one-day community in January. And it’ll be an indoor community, so that’s a good thing.”

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Cloverville will be located in Lethbridge’s Exhibition Park Pavilion, and with about 1,000 members, 300 leaders, and 100 Cleaver Kids (aged six to eight), there will be plenty of hands to build the town. A large majority of the region’s 56 clubs is expected to participate and create displays which will line half a dozen ‘streets.’ The public can tour the town from noon to 4 p.m. and learn about 4-H’s past and present.

“Along with the streets, there will be a town square where friends, family, and alumni can gather and visit,” said Pittman. “There will be an arts display in the town square, and there will be stages and a drive-in movie area where you sit down and listen to stories from alumni and club members about 4-H.

“The displays will showcase a wide variety of projects — it’s a crazy wide variety of projects that our members do. People will be surprised by the awesome number of things that our members are involved in.”

There will also be a crafts area, a 4-H camp, and a museum, and the town will also play host to Lieutenant-Governor Lois Mitchell, who will be attending a 4-H banquet in the evening. And like many of their real-life counterparts, the ‘townfolks’ will be assembling a time capsule (in the shape of a grain elevator) that will be filled with mementos of 100 years of 4-H in Alberta.

“But it won’t be going underground,” said Pittman. “We’re going to seal it and it will be on display at Exhibition Park — which has been a wonderful partner of ours for 93 years. Maybe it’ll be opened at the 125th anniversary.”

While it’s a lot of work for a one-day event, Pittman said that was never a consideration.

“It’s like anything, whether it’s 4-H or any other organization, if you have passionate volunteers who really want to sink their teeth into it, you really don’t think about the hours involved.”

Along with giving the public a chance to see what 4-H is all about, Cloverville’s builders are encouraging alumni to come by for a visit.

“I just read recently that the number of alumni in the province is in the ballpark of 250,000 — it’s a lot,” he said. “One of the things that’s really cool about 4-H is that because members do a lot of community service, they tend to keep giving back to their community, whether that’s in 4-H or other organizations. So we’re hoping to see a lot of them at Cloverville.”

There’s about 6,000 4-H members in Alberta and there will be other regional events along with provincial ones. For more info, see www.4hab100.ca. For more details on Cloverville, go to www.southcentennial.com.

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Glenn Cheater

Glenn Cheater is a veteran journalist who has covered agriculture for more than two decades. His mission is to showcase the ideas, passions, and stories of Alberta farmers and ranchers.

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