Fair Volunteer of Year not sheepish about helping out

Ridgefield’s Maxine Osborn honored for her years of work with 4-H, sheep-related activities

By Maecy Enger, Columbian Staff Reporter

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When Maxine Osborn of Ridgefield was first told by Sharon Marble that she received this year’s Volunteer of the Year award for the Clark County Fair, she didn’t know what to say.

“Why me?” Osborn asked.

“Because you’re always here,” Marble replied.

Volunteering has become a way of life for Osborn. When she worked as a nurse, she felt she was helping others. Knowing that there are hundreds of volunteers at the fair, she said it was a privilege to be honored.

“Our society would not function half as well without volunteers,” Osborn said.

If you go

• What: Clark County Fair.

• Hours Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

• Where: 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.

• Admission: Buy one adult pass and get one child pass free, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday; general admission: adults, $10; seniors 62 and older, $8; kids 7-12 $7; kids 6 and younger, free. Group packs available for admission discounts daily.

• Parking and transportation: Parking, $6 per vehicle; C-Tran shuttle, $2 round trip from park-and-ride lots. C-Tran riders get a $1 discount on fair admission. C-Tran fair schedules: http://bit.ly/nO7ISq.

• Carnival: noon to 10 p.m.; unlimited rides, $25.

• Grandstands: Three Days Grace with My Darkest Days, 7:30 p.m., tickets include fair admission; Pro Barrel Racing, 2 p.m., free with fair admission; Rough Stock Rodeo, 6:30 p.m., free with fair admission.

• Other highlights: Fast 4ward Performance Team at 6 p.m.; Hypnotist Jerry Harris, 7 and 9 p.m.

• Pets: Not permitted, except for service animals or those on exhibition.

• Information: http://www.clarkcofair.com or 360-397-6180.

Marble, an advisory committee member for the 2011 Clark County Fair, said that the Volunteer of the Year award recognizes a person who had made outstanding contributions to the fair for many years.

Osborn has been involved with sheep and the wool-spinning demonstration at the Clark County Fair since 1974 and donated countless hours.

“I bet she’s out there every day of the fair, working long, long hours,” Marble said.

Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, Osborn joined 4-H at 12 years old. 4-H is a youth program that provides instruction in agriculture, animals and home economics. In 1941 she was the state fair winner in northern Iowa for her brownie recipe. Her family later moved to the Yakima Valley. After she married, she and her husband moved to Seattle. They finally settled down around the Ridgefield area in 1970, and began raising sheep.

More recently, she and Carolyn Kimball, a longtime resident of Ridgefield, went around to schools in the area, teaching about sheep. They visited dozens of schools including Pleasant Valley and South Ridge Elementary. Their lessons included information about wool and clothing. They also talked with the students about animal health and vaccines and related the subjects to the students’ lives.

“I think it’s really neat (she received the award); she’s a worker,” Kimball said.

Now retired and a great-grandmother, Osborn has dedicated all her time to volunteering. She believes she will continue as long as there “is breath in my body.”

Osborn owns two sheep. Although she’s involved in the wool-spinning demonstration at the fair, Osborn said it was never her thing.

At the fair she has shown, been a 4-H leader and an assistant superintendent. This year the sheep barn agreed to be the featured agricultural educational display in the Grange building.

Osborn will be helping with this display, in the sheep barn and is in charge of getting volunteer spinners. Marble believes that Osborn had 45 spinners lined up, on top of the 4-Hers.

“I didn’t even know there were that many spinners in the county,” Marble said.

The sheep that Osborn owns aren’t just used as lawn mowers. Their wool is used as batting for quilts, which she donates, and wool angels she sells at bazaars.

When she goes to the Clark County Fair her favorite part is meeting people and the relationships that are made.

On second thought, “bull-riding and peach milkshakes,” Osborn said.

Maecy Enger: maecy.enger@coulumbian.com 360-735-4569.