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posted: 7/14/2012 10:16 AM

4-H competitions stay strong at the Kane County Fair

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  • Blake Sunderlage, 14 of Genoa gets ready to sell his 1,265-pound steer during the 4-H auction on the final day of the 2011 Kane County Fair in St. Charles. Sunderlage sold his prizewinning steer for $1.65 per pound.

       Blake Sunderlage, 14 of Genoa gets ready to sell his 1,265-pound steer during the 4-H auction on the final day of the 2011 Kane County Fair in St. Charles. Sunderlage sold his prizewinning steer for $1.65 per pound.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer, July 2011

 
By Hailey Czarnecki
hczarnecki@dailyherald.com

The Kane County 4-H organization branches from the University of Illinois Extension program. Every year, members compete at the Kane County Fair to win awards.

Doris Braddock, a 4-H community worker, said Kane County 4-H competitions have been around longer than the fair itself. Many families pass this tradition down to each generation.

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The club teaches children ages 8-18 applicable skills to advance learning beyond school. It started as an agricultural club and has branched into many other activities.

As the times advance, so does 4-H.

There still is a strong pull toward the agricultural competitions, such as livestock, but Braddock said many children are involved in more modern events.

Larry Breon, Kane County fairgrounds president, said 4-H teaches children to exist and work together and build character.

"It gives them important life lessons," Breon said.

4-H now offers activities like videography, GPS control, robotics and visual arts.

Braddock added, "Most exhibitions are in the visual arts."

Those include clay, glass and plastic makings, and fiber arts like quilting, knitting and sewing.

The non-livestock competitions are judged by 60 judges and are usually completed before the fair. The livestock is judged throughout the week though, Breon said,

"I've always been a livestock person," Breon admitted.

Farm animals range from ponies to rabbits to goats, and, of course, the more traditional beef, swine and poultry.

"Their shows last a lot longer," Braddock said.

Children younger than 8 are able to participate in a noncompetitive event as well to get them ready for the big leagues.

Most of the Kane County Fair's 4-H competitions are for children in the Kane County area only, according to Breon. The day after the Kane County events finish, there will be an open show for anyone in 4-H to compete in, Breon said.

Braddock said leadership plays an important role with these events.

"I really like to see all the kids try," she said.

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