At the Grundy County Fairgrounds Monday, chants of: “Left, right! Left, right!” sounded in the early afternoon still.
Teams of kids stood in file on 10-foot planks, walking toward a finish line like centipedes — four right feet lifting in unison, then the lefts.
It was the plank walk at the 4-H Games, the penultimate event of this year’s Grundy County 4-H Fair.
Holding ropes to fasten the planks to their feet, teams raced up and back in the Horse Show Arena, working for the lowest time and, in doing so, honing valuable team building skills.
“It’s definitely competitive, but it’s also about team spirit,” said Tasha Bunting, manager of the Grundy County Farm Bureau. “It’s a nice way for them to get competitive, but also work together.”
The 4-H Fair, which began Saturday and ran through Monday, featured about 200 participants in as many project areas.
The projects included livestock shows, photography presentations and scientific pursuits.
“4-H is a way for the kids to develop as people,” Bunting said. “Even though it’s fun, there’s also a lot to be learned.”
Additionally, the fair serves as a precursor to the Illinois State Fair, as winning projects are given the opportunity to advance.
“For a lot of kids, it’s how they qualify for the State Fair,” said John Davis, youth development coordinator for the University of Illinois Extension in Grundy, Will and Kankakee Counties.
The event was free and open to the public.
Davis said there was strong turn-out from family members at this year’s fair.
“For many of them, it’s part of their existence,” Davis said. “It’s not just about the meetings throughout the year. [The fair] is an important part, too.”
On Monday, at the agricultural games, there were a lot of kids, parents and grandparents hanging around the Horse Show Arena, cheering on participants as they played tug of war, stacked heavy bales of straw, and sling-shot water balloons at targets.
It was a fun way to culminate another year of 4-H, sure. But it was also a way to subtly emphasize the four tenets of the organization: head, heart, hands and health.
“I think it’s gone really well,” Bunting said. “It’s always a good way for [the participants] to show what they’ve been working on.”