4-H celebrated by remembering fun-filled past

By Carol Stender

WINDOM, Minn. -- Cottonwood County 4-H enthusiasts had so many ideas for marking the nationwide centennial of 4-H that they decided to spread out the celebration.

They will celebrate 100 years of 4-H in 2002, the nationwide centennial; 2005, 100 years after 4-H was founded in Minnesota; and again a few years later to mark when the youth leadership program began in Cottonwood County.

The observance started last week with the Cottonwood County Fashion Review, held in Windom.


Garments made by 4-H alumni were modeled during intermission. Alumni were asked to write a description of the garment, what they remembered about sewing it and their memories about the project.

"Some people would tell me they still had their handmade garments but the items were a little threadbare," said Andrea Reusch, regional 4-H youth development extension educator. "I told them their dress review judges would be smiling down at them. The 4-H'ers not only made the outfits for a project but enjoyed them so much, they wore them regularly."

Lois Herrig of Mountain Lake modeled her 1977 4-H garment. The floor length dress was made for her 1977 senior prom, but when she realized she didn't have time to sew for the fashion review she grabbed the prom dress. She sewed a snap at the zipper's top, and enrolled it for the project. The crowd cheered as she walked on stage.

It was obvious that the garments were special. Some kept aprons they'd made several decades ago. Others brought tailored coats and one 4-H alumnus, Val Graff, had two 4-H'ers model her 1972 red crushed velvet ensemble complete with jacket, vest and hot pants.

Some, like Carol Vogt, also kept their 4-H records. That's where she found the price of her coat. She purchased two-and-a-half yards of both fabric and lining plus other sewing materials to make the $15.78 coat that was a dress review champion. The sewing project spurred Vogt's clothing interests and she now makes 125 garments each year through her sewing business, Carol's Creations.

Nordis Olson's records detailed the 150 hours she spent making her 1967 100 percent wool coat. The former Rock County Wisconsin 4-H'er spent $22 on the garment, which received a blue ribbon at both the county and state fair.

Reusch hopes that the alumni fashion review will spur others to bring in their past projects to the Cottonwood County Fair, which is Aug. 7-11 in Windom. The fair will highlight 4-H centennial celebrations during an alumni reunion 5-7 p.m. Aug. 10., she said.

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