Country Cuzz club fair provides encouraging alternative for 4-H kids

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One of the Country Cuzz’s youngest members, Kalab Brownlee explains his leaf book to Platt. (Submitted photo)

Hesston Brownlee knew just what kind of tractors he had, and what farm machinery was there.

By Correne Martin


Unable to fulfill their goals at the Crawford County Fair this year—when the pandemic caused its cancellation, leaders of the Country Cuzz 4-H Club in Mt. Zion refused to let down their eager young members. As an alternative, a club fair was organized, giving the kids the opportunity to showcase their hard work.

“When I told my kids there was no fair, you could tell they were disappointed,” said co-leader Orsa Cornwall. “So I talked to some of the other leaders and it just so happened that one of the families in our club had finished building a huge horse arena that can be open or closed.”

It was the perfect place for the small club to spread out and, in spite of all that was going on, still experience the traditional exhibition of various 4-H projects. 

The club members continued working on their animal, art, sewing, diorama, garden and other projects as they would have for the county fair. Once fair weekend arrived, they gathered at the arena, owned by Ann and Paul Dennis, to show them in exchange for comments from volunteer judge Platt Brown. 

“He judged each kid against themselves and gave comments on every single project,” Cornwall said. “For their top project, they got a gift certificate for Dairy Queen ice cream.”

The Country Cuzz 4-H Club has 15 active members from about eight different families. Of those participants, some only entered two projects for the club fair, while others submitted as many as eight projects. Tables were set up per family, in order for the all-day event to happen with social distancing in place. 

“Seeing the joy on their faces, and smiles we hadn’t seen all summer long, you could see it meant a lot to them,” Cornwall explained. “A couple of them already asked to do [the club fair] again next year.”

To be specially recognized by their families and peers, the club members took home not only ribbons but also encouragement from their leaders—Cornwall and Gale Childs—and judge Brown. 

“It was so cute watching dad (Brown) tell the one little boy to keep practicing his hidden talents,” Cornwall noted. “He was so proud he had a hidden talent.”

Cornwall’s daughters showed chickens and rabbits in the club fair. This occasion came at an important time, a time during the COVID-19 pandemic when it has been easy for youth to become indulged in computers and technology, rather than hands-on and outdoor activities. 

“This made them still go out and fool around with their animals,” she said. 

The Country Cuzz is typically a busy group, as Cornwall and Childs enjoy involving the members in fun project days, even outside of fair season. Despite COVID-19, they managed to continue some of them, with a few precautions. 

The county fair, especially, was a major hit. 

“The reaction from the kids is worth all the work we put in. They were very excited. Every single one of them and their parents came back and thanked us,” Cornwall said. “We had to do it, for the kids.”

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