Splurging on a sweet treat will boost leadership and learning opportunities for young people in McPherson County.

As part of the McPherson County 4-H Fair, items entered into food competitions will be auctioned off at 6 p.m. July 21 in the tent on the 4-H fairgrounds, 600 W. Woodside St. in McPherson. Proceeds will go toward county-side programs through the 4-H Council.

“The auction is really fun. The kids work hard on these projects and their food is awesome,” said Lindsey Friesen, 4-H youth development agent with the McPherson County K-State Research and Extension office. “There’s layered cakes, homemade yeast breads, cookies and muffins and all sorts of goodies.”

The event also occurs during the McPherson Chamber of Commerce’s Rural Appreciation Supper, so attendees can stop by for dinner, then purchase dessert at the fair.

“We get a wider audience because of the supper that night,” Friesen said. “It’s a great way for people to come out and support us.”

The funds are used by the 4-H Council which is made up of two students and two adults from each of the 4-H clubs in the county.

“Each club is represented in the council. They meet six times through the year to plan county events and talk about the program,” Friesen said. “They act as liaisons between the county and their 4-H groups.”

Though adults vote in the council, the youth primarily do the behind-the-scenes work in planning annual 4-H events.

“We plan any fun events throughout the year on the county level. Each year we try to plan a social event, so we’ve gone roller skating, or we had a fall fun event with a bonfire,” said Kaylee Littrell, secretary of the 4-H Council. “Our clubs meet monthly, but we don’t really get to meet with other 4-Hers unless it’s a county-wide event. These actives let us meet new people or it gives us an opportunity to meet our friends from different clubs.”

Participating in the council allows young people to learn leadership skills first hand.

“They really guide the program in what needs to be done,” Friesen said. “That group of kids is really fun to work with and it’s been pretty diverse. We have some younger, 10- to 12-year-olds who are involved, but we also have high schoolers in those leadership roles as well. They really get to help plan things like 4-H club day, social events, family events and other fun things we do through the year.”

By having an auction, more cash is raised through visibility and a little bit of competition between buyers.

“Before, we just had the food for sale in the extension office and the prices weren’t very high. In an auction, the prices cover the cost of making the items and a lot of people come out to support 4-H,” Littrell said. “Also, the prices go up when two bidders start competing.”

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at cderksen@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.