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Mud Fest: Young people get the dirt on clean water

Ann Oduber has found a way to teach youths about clean water but it will involve a lot of mud and slime. 

The Christian education coordinator from the First Lutheran Church of DeKalb collaborated with several other local churches on an event that promises to get children wet and mucky. But the event also will educate them on the importance of clean water and how people in Tanzania, Africa, have to survive many times without it. 

“The best way to teach youth about clean water is to get them really dirty with mud, green slime and say ‘Oh by the way, there’s no running water out here,’” Oduber said. 

The event is called Mud Fest 2013 and it will be held this Saturday at the Sanderson Farm in the Mayfield Township area. Children and teenagers are encouraged to come and donate $10 that will support clean water filtration systems in Tanzania, Africa. During the event, youths will participate in games such as shaving cream wars and tractor rides.

“It will be good old-fashioned messy fun,” Oduber said.

This is the first event of its kind that the First United Methodist church, First Lutheran Church and Bethlehem Lutheran Church have collaborated on. Oduber said she reached out to meet with coordinators at other churches because she wanted to think of more events they could put together after she helped with a successful glow-in-the-dark event in March. 

“When you come together under the same goal of supporting youth in the community, you can accomplish much more ... you can cross the denominational line,” Oduber said.

Nancy Melms, Christian education director for First United Methodist Church, said the area churches are always looking to put together an event that can help other people. Mud Fest will be helpful for children to see how beneficial clean water can be for African communities, she said.

“We thought people using the clean water filtration systems would be something new and something they haven’t experienced before,” Melms said. “... we take the clean water for granted here.”

Jack Cress, CEO of Cresswood Shredding Machinery, will be at the event to educate the youths about the need for clean water in Tanzania. Next summer he will travel to Africa to deliver several clean water filtration systems. The proceeds from Mud Fest will go toward purchasing ceramic water filters, Cress said in an email. 

One of the filter systems was designed by Manny Hernandez, a Northern Illinois University art professor. Silver is embedded inside the ceramic material of the filter system and it doesn’t involve any chemicals for filtering, Oduber said. 

For more information on Mud Fest 2013, call 815-758-0643 or visit


If you go

What: Mud Fest 2013

Who: All middle and high school students invited, they should bring signed permission form and extra clothes

When: 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Sanderson Farm, North Malta Road, 1/2 mile north of Route 64, Mayfield Township

Cost: $10, includes hot dog meal

Information: 815-758-0643 or

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