URBANA — Hundreds of kids in 4-H will still get to compete this summer on everything from the cookies they bake to the cattle they’ve raised, just not like they traditionally do at the Champaign County Fair.
Even before the county fair was canceled for this summer, the University of Illinois Extension had converted the annual 4-H youth project showings and judging in four area counties to virtual events.
“It’s totally different. It’s far from normal, but everything is,” said Myla Munro, a 4-H youth development educator for Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties. “We’re doing our best to give them some opportunity.”
The Champaign County Fair became the latest casualty of coronavirus on Friday, when the fair association announced this year’s fair has been canceled due to the evolving COVID-19 situation and its impact on community health and well-being.
“The safety of the Champaign County Fair’s visitors, participants and community is the highest priority in producing the annual fair,” the fair association said. “After seeking guidance from the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and taking direction from Gov. Pritzker, it became clear that cancellation was the prudent choice for the fair to do its part to improve community health and safety and reduce the cycle of infection.”
All other non-fair events that were scheduled to take place at the county fairgrounds have been canceled or postponed, the group said.
Munro said 4-H project showings and judging in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion have all been converted to a virtual format.
Rather than show their projects to be judged in person, 4-H members will upload pictures and reports on their projects for judges to see and read.
Blue, red and white ribbons will still be awarded, though how that will be done hasn’t yet been decided, Munro said.
The virtual format means judges will make their decisions on, for example, baked cookies without tasting them, she said. But entrants will provide pictures of the cookies not only on top, but on the bottom, so judges can see how the cookies were browned and broken in half so judges can see the density.
This would have been the Champaign County Fair’s 168th year, according to the fair association.
Last year, there were more than 1,500 entry classes and more than $100,000 in prizes offered, the group said.
As for those who were looking forward to The Beach Boys concert July 23 and country singer Billy Currington July 24, well, maybe another year.
Refunds will be offered to those who purchased concert tickets, with more information about how to get a refund to be made available in upcoming weeks, according to the fair association.
Next year’s fair has been scheduled for July 23-31.