As a kid growing up in Wisconsin, John Davis spent each summer raising dairy cattle for fairs.
“It was a social event,” said Davis, the youth development coordinator for the University of Illinois Extension in Grundy, Will and Kankakee Counties.
“The fair is part of an Americana that most people miss out on now.”
That slice of Americana will be out in full-force as the annual Grundy County 4-H Fair opens today, Saturday, July 27, and runs through Monday, July 29, at the Grundy County Fairgrounds on Illinois 47, north of Morris.
The culmination of the 4-H year, over 200 participants will show off their projects in as many project areas — which range from raising livestock to artistic endeavors to scientific pursuits.
“It’s very difficult to do a project that doesn’t fit into a project area,” Davis said.
As the year culminates, Davis said many kids did well at state and are looking forward to the fair.
“It is the culmination of their year-long project,” Davis said. “This is their chance to show everyone what they’ve been working on.”
The projects will be judged by a team of volunteer judges, but equally important is the chance to show their project to their families — many of whom participated in 4-H themselves.
“There’s always a sense of pride there in completing something,” Davis said. “It’s the confidence of being able to do it and learn on your feet.”
Other events at the fair include Agricultural Olympics and a pork chop supper on Sunday.
It’s a fun, free social event, Davis said. But it’s also about the lessons participants learn through the process.
“In many cases, [the projects] become entrepreneurial opportunities,” Davis said. “It’s not just show and tell.”