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Cook Co. 4-H Fair held for first time in more than 100 years

AmandBeall 16 Oak Forest 'Boots.' | Evan F. Moore/For Sun-Times Media

Amanda Beall, 16, of Oak Forest and "Boots." | Evan F. Moore/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 30, 2014 2:08AM



BRIDGEVIEW — Since the 4-H Club was founded in 1902, the perception was that it was only for people in rural areas.

Times have changed.

The Cook County 4-H Fair was held at Toyota Park in Bridgeview Saturday morning.

This was the first time in over 100 years of 4-H branches in Cook County had a joint fair. Previous Fairs were held in North suburban, South suburban, and Chicago metro Cook County.

George F. Czapar, Ph.D., dean and director of the University of Illinois extension, loved the event’s turnout.

“This is the first time we’ve done this event,” Czapar said. “It is good to see all of Cook County come together for one 4-H fair.”

Czapar also said that he wants 4-H to involve kids who don’t live in farm communities.

“It fits what we want to do. Making 4-H available to metro kids not to farm kids. We want to expand it and broaden it.”

Fairgoers saw more than 1,000 projects on display, all of which were created by 4-H members from various clubs. Projects included topics on health, cooking, science and sewing. Purple ribbon winners in most categories will have a chance to go to the state fair in Springfield.

Amanda Beall, 16, of Oak Forest, has been a 4-H member for five years, her project was on a 5 month-old goat named “Boots.”

“I recently got into goats about a year ago. I saw a goat and I said I got to have that goat so I got in this project this project,” Beall said.

“That’s basically how I got into all my projects. It’s really cool because I can say ‘Hey! I do stuff’ if there’s a creative writing class. If I have to do something, I can exhibit that in my 4-H project.”

Members are generally enrolled in clubs that meet in community, school, afterschool or church groups.

According to 4-H, nearly 60,000 of their youth members live in Illinois. Nationwide, 1 in 7 adults is a 4-H alumnus.

Patricia Polk-Martin, the head of a Chicago-based 4-H branch called “Osaze, Inc.,” is a former 4-H member who grew up on a farm in Momence. Her students planted fruits and vegetables.

“We started this project three months ago. We decided it was needed in our community,” she said.

She also believes that 4-H has come a long way since she was a member.

“I think 4-H has grown into something really big and I hope more 4-H clubs start in Chicago.”

For more information, contact the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Office of Extension
and Outreach at (217)-333-5900
or log on to 4-H.illinois.edu.



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