Tazewell 4-H members experience a unique drive-thru award ceremony

three siblings standing in front of sign that reads Tazewell County 4-H Show and Jr. Fair
Fifty-one Tazewell 4-H members participated in a unique award ceremony for their involvement in the 2020 Virtual 4-H Show. Exhibitors and their families attended a drive thru recognition event at the fairgrounds to receive their ribbons, certificates, and other recognition pieces, along with taking commemorative pictures.

PEKIN, Ill. - The skill mastery exhibited during the 2020 Virtual 4-H Shows seemed extra special this year and deserved an extra special recognition. A drive-thru awards ceremony was held honoring the Tazewell County 4-H Virtual Show exhibitors.

“An important part of the 4-H experience is the recognition of skills learned and opportunity to reflect on accomplishments,” explained Katharine Girone, Tazewell 4-H program coordinator. “The covered alleyway on our fairgrounds provided the perfect place to hold a drive-thru awards program and gave our
4-Hers a fun way to celebrate a unique fair in a unique way.”

All 87 virtual show exhibitors and their families were invited to participate in the open house-style awards ceremony held on October 24, 2020. Over half of the families were able to stop by Veterans Memorial Fairgrounds at Mineral Springs Park to receive their 4-H Show ribbons, State Fair certificates, a custom-made Tazewell 4-H sticker, and have a commemorative photo taken.

“During an in-person 4-H show, 4-H families love to utilize the photo areas. I wanted to recreate that excitement for our virtual exhibitors,” Katharine shared. “For nine youth, this was their first time exhibiting and I wanted their experience to be as close to ‘normal’ as possible.”

Due to the nature of the event it was even more obvious to see the support our
4-Hers have from the adults in their lives. There was at least one adult for every
4-H member, along with siblings and cousins joining in on the fun. At least 100 people passed through and there were plenty of smiles and laughs to go around.

“I saw some members for the first time in over a year; so, it felt like a 4-H family reunion!  I met new 4-H members and their parents and was introduced to two new-born additions….future 4-Hers,” Katharine shared.

Multiple members and parents expressed their thanks for this opportunity, along with the opportunities the virtual 4-H show provided, as they drove through. One parent shared how she felt the drive thru was the perfect closure to a challenging summer.

Another parent shared this sentiment from her daughter, “Victoria has already said a couple times since we left (the drive-thru), ‘That was so fun! I’m so glad we could come.’”

While it was not the award ceremony they were accustomed to, Tazewell 4-H members and their families thoroughly enjoyed themselves and made the best of this unique experience.

SOURCE - Katharine Girone, Tazewell 4-H Program Coordinator

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

ABOUT 4-H: Illinois 4-H strives to help youth learn skills for living. University of Illinois Extension provides 4-H programs in every county in Illinois. Illinois 4-H aims to impact the lives of 200,000 youth each year through sustained learning clubs and groups and short-term programming.