An outsider may be tempted to view 4-H as a youth organization devoted to agricultural pursuits. But the country’s largest youth development program reaches out to young people in both rural and urban environments, teaching not only agricultural skills but science, health and citizenship through hands-on projects. Those hands-on endeavors range from raising and handling livestock to cake decorating to aerospace. Approximately 200 Tazewell County 4-H club members will have an opportunity to display the results of this year’s club-sponsored ventures July 31 through August 2 during the Tazewell County 4-H Fair at Pekin’s Mineral Springs Park. 

“The fair is a chance for 4-H members to showcase the projects they’ve worked on throughout the year to the public and their peers,” said Katharine Girone, Tazewell County 4-H program coordinator. “We’ll have all sorts of different exhibits in livestock, food, computer sciences, mechanical sciences and robotics.”

Tazewell County has been hosting a 4-H Fair for nearly 100 years. The 4-H poultry show is one of the largest in Illinois, and one of the more popular attractions of any Tazewell County 4-H Fair. The horse show and the dog show are also well-attended events. In addition to the exhibits, 4-H will offer games and activities throughout the fair.

“At our dog show, we offer a dog agility course,” said Girone. “The kids will go through the tunnels and hoops along with their dogs, and the public loves watching that. It takes a lot of finesse to maneuver through some of those obstacles.”

“I would encourage people to attend the fair because we offer a fun, family-friendly environment,” Girone said. “Those kids have worked so hard on their projects all year, and this is a great time for them to show their expertise and get that sense of pride that comes with accomplishment.”

Winners of the exhibits will be eligible to compete in the Illinois State 4-H Fair in Springfield Aug. 10 through 20.

4-H is a global network of youth organizations with the common mission of helping young people reach their fullest potential and to advancing the field of youth development. The group’s goal is to help young people cultivate citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills through experiential learning programs and a positive approach. The group’s name represents four areas of focus: head, heart, hands, and health. Globally, 4-H organizations exist in over 50 countries. In the United States, 4-H has over 6.5 million members in approximately 90,000 clubs. Tazewell County is home to 16 4-H clubs.