Kent Resident Honored for 4-H Fair Dedication at the Grill

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For the past 35 years, under the blazing sun, Bill Giles has been working the grill at the 4-H Fair cooking sausages, hot dogs, and burgers for thousands of residents and other fair visitors.

To commemorate his 35th year of hard work and withstanding the heat, Giles, a Kent resident, was honored with this year’s service award during the 4-H Fair’s opening ceremony. Before thousands of fair goers came through, many of which likely ate Giles’ cooking, public officials and Cornell Cooperative Extension leaders took time before the rush to applaud Giles for his volunteerism. This was the 45th annual 4-H Fair in Putnam and it lasted all weekend.

The first year he volunteered, Giles cooked for only a couple of hours. Every year since, his time near the grill only grew when someone didn’t show, or an extra hand was needed.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” Giles said. “That’s how it started.”

This time of year is so meaningful to Giles that his wife knows not to plan a vacation the last weekend in July and he takes the weekend off from his job to free up time. When asked if there’s any tricks to his sizzling success, he said, “There’s no secret, it’s sausage, boil it and grill it.”

Giles stressed the point of the 4-H Fair is for the hundreds of Putnam children that volunteer and are part of various 4-H activities with the fair the pinnacle of their year. The children organize it, run it and it’s their show, Giles said. All he does is handle the part of the fair, like cooking on the grill, which they can’t do just yet.

“These are your future leaders,” Giles said. “And what this country is going to be about.”

Cornell Cooperative Extension director Marjorie Keith called Giles a “dedicated” volunteer and noted his work goes beyond this weekend. He has been on the Cornell Cooperative board of directors and his leadership skills and business acumen have been incredibly critical to the organization’s growth, Keith said.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell said there are many volunteers that make the fair a grand event each year. Giles was certainly an appropriate person to recognize this year because of his support and advocacy for youth programs in Putnam, she remarked.

“He’s a terrific individual well deserving of the award,” Odell said.

Giles joked that while he cooks plenty during this weekend each year, his wife handles the cooking at home. The reason why she never asks if he can cook for her?

“Because she’s the better cook,” Giles said, with a jovial laugh fair goers heard all weekend.

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