4 - 4-H Building
Click Image for a Larger VersionInside the 4-H Building Text
Inside the 4-H Building
“My Head to clearer thinking
My Heart to greater loyalty
My Hands to larger service
My Health to better living
For my club, my community,
My country, and my world.”
Every young person involved in the 4-H program commits that pledge to memory. And historically, only 4-H participants earn the privilege to stay at the 4-H building at the State Fair.
Back in 1940, when the building was newly dedicated, 4-H’ers came from rural areas across the state. They settled in for the night in triple-decker bunk beds on the upper floors of the building…massive dorms that were later referred to as the 4-H Hilton. The next morning, many would head to the barns to showcase their sheep, pig or cow. Other 4-H’ers showed off their agricultural products, handmade clothing, cooking and even photography.
“I was in 4H Club and one of the areas I loved was the photography project. I did my poster with my photographs and entered it in the Fair, and won Grand Champion. I was shocked. I was 12 years old.”
When the 4-H building was completed, it was deemed “… the most modern and useable building of its kind in the world.” But to 4-H’ers, it was often the first time away from home, a place to meet other kids from far away counties, and a chance to win a ribbon at the State Fair!
“They told me I was going to be able to go to the State Fair, my photos would be sent there, and that all the representative winners from Wilkin County would get on a bus and go down to the State Fair. My parents were just mortified: We can’t send our little 12-year-old daughter down to the big city on her own. Fortunately they convinced my parents: It’s safe, there are chaperones, she’ll be staying in the 4H building, there will be tons of other kids her age there; you’ve got to let her go. And so they agreed to let me go and I got on that bus all by myself; and off I went to St. Paul.”
Today, 4-H’ers still come to show off their best. Staying at the 4-H building was and is a rite of passage for many young people at the Minnesota State Fair.
4-H Building Design
The 4-H building is referred to as a WPA building. The Works Progress Administration, or WPA, was a federal employment program that created almost 8 million jobs across the country during the great depression of the 1930s and ’40s. Some 200-300 people found work on the State Fairgrounds during this critical period.
The building itself reflects the idealism and nationalism of this time in history. Notice the strength in materials and the power of the vertical tower set in the middle of the long horizontal base.
WPA buildings were meant to be understood by everyone. Sculptures conveying key messages were added to buildings. For example, the four leaf clover right over the front door shows you exactly what’s happening inside. It says “this is the 4-H building” - Head, Heart, Hands, and Health - all part of the 4-H pledge.
You can see other WPA projects at the State Fair, including the horse barn, the sheep and poultry barn, and the ramp leading up to the grandstand.
4-H pledge on the Building
You’ve heard the 4-H pledge. Are these words reflected in any way, in or on the building?