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100 years of projects and still going strong

PRINCETON — Photography, foods and crops, child development, interior design, and animal science are just a handful of the hundreds of projects which will be showcased at next week’s annual Bureau County 4-H Fair.

This year’s fair will be held Thursday through Sunday at the Bureau County Fairgrounds in Princeton. The annual fair is part of the 4-H and Youth Development Program outreach of the University of Illinois Extension. Attendance is free to the public.

On Thursday, 4-H and Youth Development Program coordinator Jennifer Caldwell said about 300 Bureau County young people participate in the 4-H program through 12 4-H community clubs and two special interest groups. Many of the 4-H club members prepare several projects for next week’s fair.

This year’s theme for the fair is “100 Reasons to Celebrate Extension” in observance of the organization’s 100th anniversary. In recognition of the anniversary, anyone attending the fair from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday can contribute to a display on the stage celebrating 4-H where short stories and notes will be collected to tell things people enjoy about 4-H or other Extension programs. The collection will be used during the year after the fair as part of Extension’s 100-year celebration.

Traditional projects which were popular with the start of the national 4-H program 100 years ago, such as crops, animals, gardening, cooking and sewing, are still popular with young people today, Caldwell said. In recent years, there has been a growing popularity and creativity in other areas, such as the visual arts field, she said.

In addition to the hundreds of projects accomplished this year by Bureau County young people, the fair will also feature special events including the Ag Olympics and the Fashion Revue on Thursday, a fair scavenger hunt and commodity carnival on Friday, the 4-H sale of champions and awards program on Saturday and horse speed/gaming events on Sunday.

The 4-H program is a great program that teaches young people about a lot of different things while still having fun, Caldwell said. The program opens many opportunities and doors for young people. They not only learn about a wide variety of things through their projects and programs, but they also learn important life skills, like how to make presentations and speak in public, to evaluate and organize. They learn self-esteem and confidence, she said.

“Through 4-H, our kids are learning while having fun,” Caldwell said.

Again, next week’s annual 4-H Fair is open to the general public, not just those involved in the 4-H program, Caldwell said.

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