MORRIS – Tucker and Taggert Tesdal, members of Saratoga Ag 4-H Club, are preparing their final entries for this year’s 4-H Fair, perfecting their recipes and doing the project paperwork that needs to be submitted.
Ten-year-old Tucker has been in 4-H for three years and is excited to enter another fair season where he will get the opportunity to show what he has learned this year.
“I went to the candy making workshop, and I’m entering candy in the fair,” Tucker said. “Because what kid doesn’t like candy?”
His 15-year-old brother, Taggert, is perfecting his cheese muffins and nut bread, but competing is only part of why he enjoys the fair.
“It teaches me how to present myself, which will help when I have to go for a job interview,” he said. “Just like an interviewer asks questions so do the 4-H judges.”
The 4-H Fair offers a wide range of categories to enter, from food products to interior design, and livestock to computers.
Today’s 4-H members come from many aspects of the community, from living and working on the family farm to living inside the city limits.
“It’s not all country stuff,” Taggert said. “There is something for everyone.”
This year’s fair opens Saturday morning and runs through Monday afternoon.
John Davis, Youth Development Educator with the University of Illinois Extension in Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties, said the number of entries remains consistent even though there is a conflict this year, with dates coinciding with the state fair horse show.
Davis said 4-H is important to children in the area because it gives them a chance to participate in activities they ordinarily wouldn’t get to do.
“There are a lot of creative things like photography and creative arts,” he said. “As schools face cutbacks and go into Common Core, they don’t get to do as many of these things in school.”
He said the fair is important because it then gives those children the opportunity to measure themselves against others in their area, although each child is judged based on what they’ve learned and presented.
“The fair brings the 4-H year to a climax with an opportunity to compete, and not just get feedback from mom and dad.”
When the members present their project to judges, they get to sit with the judges and explain what they’ve learned, what they would do differently, and what they think they did well. Ribbons are presented not only based on the final project, but also on how the child answers the questions.
This will be the second 4-H Fair for the Greene family, who said they are excited about this weekend. Nathanal Greene will be competing with three separate projects for the event – creative writing, a natural resources project and a baking project.
“I’m probably most excited about the baking,” he said while setting up for the fair Thursday.
The fair is open to the public and features an annual pork chop barbecue and ice cream social from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday, which helps raise money for 4-H.
It’s followed by a livestock auction at 7 p.m. where the public is welcome to bid on the grand champion and reserve grand champion animals. Events take place at the Grundy County Fairgrounds.
• Morris Daily Herald reporter Jessica Bourque contributed to this report.