MORRIS — A 4-H fair and a rock music festival aren't usually compared to each other.
But that's exactly what John Davis, director of the University of Illinois Extension, did for this year's edition of the fair, which ran from July 28-30 at the Grundy Couty Fairgrounds.
"This is kind of like Lollapalooza for 4-H," Davis said. "They have about 200 acts, and we have about 200 different acts here. There is definitely something for everybody."
The exhibits at the fair ranged from the traditional livestock showings, such as swine, goats, cattle and horses, to foods, art, woodworking and photography. Keeping up with the changing times, the fair also had divisions for robotics, rocketry and computer-generated art.
"We have everything you can think of here," Davis said. "The other day in the big exhibit hall, we had the cat show on one end of the building and the dog show on the other end. Of course, we had to try our best to keep those shows as separated as we could.
"We had a lot of kids out there in the field when the kids who build rockets set them off. The YMCA brought a group of kids out here and they were out there helping chase down the rockets. It was fun to watch them because chasing a rocket is kind of like chasing a fly ball at Wrigley Field sometimes. It's over there, then it's over there. But the kids had a lot of fun, and that was great to see."
4-H stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health, and is for children ages 8-19. The participants work on different projects and present them at the fair for judging.
There were the traditional showings of livestock, with divisons in beef, cats, dairy, dogs, dairy goats, pygmy goats and boer goats, horse and pony, poultry, rabbits, sheep, small pets and swine. Also included in the competition were divisons for animal and veterinary science, personal development - which includes communications, photography, and journalism - and theater arts, which includes public presentations and demonstrations. Other divisions of competition are community involvement and global awareness, health, clothing, foods, interior design, visual arts, engineering and technology, environment and natural resources, plants and soils, agriculture and horticulture.
"In the showmanship competitions, the kids get to judge livestock and compare it to how professionals judge the same animals," University of Illinois Extention 4-H program coordinator Brooke Baker said. "That way, they learn what judges are looking for in livestock."
Daivs noted that there about 200 kids involved in 4-H, and that all of them had something entered at the fair, many in more than one division.
"There was one girl that had an entry in three different events that were all happening near the same time," he said. "She had to make sure everything was ready. That's another thing they learn is time management.
"It was a real successful fair this year. The weather wasn't 95 degrees and it wasn't raining, so it was nice for everybody. The great thing is that you can learn so much by going around and seeing the different exhibits."