A group of youngsters spent Sunday, June 9, making the Head of the Lakes Fairgrounds brighter. Members of the Northern Lights 4-H Club and Girl Scout Troop 4429 joined forces to paint and repair benches and picnic tables before rain began to fall.

“This whole fair is a representation of our club and our community,” said Kristy Strom, one of the Northern Lights leaders. “We wanted to give back; we’re teaching the kids to give back.”

About 25 children participated, many in tandem with their parents.

“4-H and county fairgrounds -- they go together. They always have; they always will,” 4-H parent Mike Hendrickson said.

He pointed out that many of the buildings even have the word "4-H" on them.

Local businesses supported the effort with material donations, funds and pizza. Leaders from clubs throughout the county also planned to spend Monday evening, June 10, planting flowers at the fairgrounds, 4700 Tower Ave.

The sweat equity community members have poured into the site over the years, from big United Way Day of Caring projects to small painting events, make a difference.

“It’s fantastic because there are so many things that need to be done that we don’t have time to do,” said Head of the Lakes Fair secretary Joanne O’Brien, adding that funds are also an issue. “We will take any help we can get.”

Douglas County officials have started looking closely at the fairgrounds. Adam Olson with the county's Emergency Management, Communications & General Services Department met with fairgrounds managers to assess the condition of the buildings recently. In May, the Land and Development Committee, which is responsible for oversight of the fairgrounds, engaged the city's building inspector for an in-depth scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the fair is slated for July 16-21.

“We’re planning that it’s on,” O’Brien said.

The 4-H leaders were aware of the county’s concerns about the fairgrounds.

“Obviously, we would like them to put more money and effort into it,” said Diane Van Zee, another Northern Lights leader. “We’re going to continue to support it.”

Club members are actively preparing for the fair, polishing up projects ranging from arts and crafts to raising animals. During the year, they engage in community service, learning activities and fun projects. The fundamentals of the program are amazing, said Van Zee, who grew up as a member of a 4-H club, and it’s open to all.

“Anybody’s welcome -- anybody in Douglas County,” said John Engelbrecht, whose daughter is the Northern Lights club president. “There’s a bunch of different groups. If they want to participate, get a hold of us.”

Visit douglas.extension.wisc.edu or call 715-395-1363 for a list of clubs and leaders. Or, stop by the fair to see what 4-H kids are capable of.

“It isn’t about the rides and all that. It’s about the kids doing all this,” Engelbrecht said. “Come and support it because if they don’t get the support, they’re going to close.”

Learn more about volunteer opportunities by calling 715-394-7848, emailing hfair839@msn.com, visiting headofthelakes.com or attending the Friends of the Fair meeting at 6 p.m. June 19 in the Curling Club building.