Junior grangers finding acceptance in fairs
No longer required to be in 4-H or FFA
Last updated 7/13/2023 at 9am
FRANKLIN COUNTY — An old organization is making a comeback in Washington state, bolstered by woke shifts in Washington State University Extension Office’s 4-H and school-based Future Farmers of America programs.
Washington State Grange, founded in 1889, is now providing an alternative way for rural families to participate in fairs statewide.
Grange is a rural organization that unites rural families with agricultural programs, community halls and activities, and more statewide.
The Benton-Franklin Fair in Kennewick was initially hesitant to allow junior grangers to participate in fairs outside of 4-H and FFA membership, but ultimately approved of it after the state authorized fairs to open up entries.
“This is a trend in Washington state and beyond,” Benton-Franklin Fair and Rodeo Director Lori Lancaster said. “We want to make sure as many youths as possible have the opportunity to participate in the fair.”
Lancaster said many other area fairs have opened their doors to junior grangers and their families, including those in Adams, Chelan, Grant, Kittitas, Walla Walla and Whitman.
The Columbia Basin Junior Livestock Show has also moved to allow junior grangers who are not members of 4-H or FFA.
“They’re just kids,” Othello Fair Director Becky Flyckt said. “They should be allowed to compete regardless of which group they are with.”
In Whitman County, Palouse Empire Fair Director Bill Tensfield agreed.
So far, no junior grangers have entered Palouse Empire Fair activities outside of 4-H or FFA, but they are certainly welcome, he said.
Tensfield noted grange families have been active in other events, such as art and cooking, for a while.
Back in Franklin County, James Gimenez is largely credited for opening the door to grange families who do not want their children regularly pushed by “woke” narratives that are attempting to redefine society.
Gimenez is the father of three boys and president of Freedom Grange No. 1152, a chapter of Washington State Grange.
He said his family’s shift away from 4H is because, “Grange is for the whole family.”
Gimenez and his family enjoy their involvement with Grange and have praised the organization’s values.
Previously, his family active with 4-H, but moved away because of the injection of gender politics in recent years, politics he believes are not family-oriented.
“Yeah, we left because my family does not agree with the direction that 4-H is taking,” he said. “It does not align with our personal beliefs and values.”
Grange, however, is all about family and real inclusivity, he said.
“It truly emulates inclusion and equal opportunity for families,” he said.