A Job Well Done
For those who missed out, the 2016 Palo Alto County Fair is entered in the history books. So, how did the fair go? For starters, the first couple of days were real beasts – not the four-legged type, either.
With lots of the livestock exhibits being brought to the fairgrounds on the Wednesday evening in hopes to beat the extreme heat forecasted for the next few days, exhibitors and fair board members alike all hoped for the best.
Thursday dawned just as the weather forecasters had predicted – sunny and hot. If I recall, the temperature at 11 a.m. was about 95, and the heat index in the 109 degree range. By 3 in the afternoon, it was 98, and the heat index was about 113.
You know the old saying, too hot for man or beast? It was, but our youth soldiered on. Walk through any livestock barn and the animals were as comfortable as they could be. Fans were blowing, water was available and the youthful exhibitors were watching their animals.
A couple of animals did end up going home early, but it was in the interest of safety for the animals that their exhibitor/owners decided to take that course of action. For an exhibitor who has worked with their animals to prepare for the fair, and then have to accept that they were unable to show that project is a bitter pill to swallow. But, both young people will return next year, ready to show their new projects at the fair.
Granted, the weather was not the most conducive or comfortable on Thursday or Friday, but those who came to the fair found plenty to look at in the commercial building, the Open class exhibits, the 4-H Exhibits buildings, events in the Open-Air pavilion and the various livestock shows throughout the fair.
The rodeo on Saturday night drew great crowds, and the local youths who participated all enjoyed their opportunity to cowboy and cowgirl up in front of family and friends. Bringing the Emmetsburg Kiwanis to the grounds on Sunday morning for a pancake breakfast was a new event for the fair, and a nice crowd came down to partake on a beautiful Sunday morning, with many taking time to look around the grounds and see the livestock and othe exhibits.
As a member of the Fair Board since 1993, I still get ramped up every year when the fair rolls around. There have been so many changes in the fair itself over the years. Dating back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when I?was an exhibitor in 4-H and FFA at the fair, I remember how the fair has changed from then until today.
The biggest change over the years has been exhibits – as our county’s population has declined over the years, the numbers of livestock and other exhibits have declined. But by no means has the quality of those exhibits declined in any way.
Working in the livestock show ring during the various shows, one common comment was repeated in some form over and over again by the livestock show judges. The beef judge, making his first trip to Palo Alto County, admitted he was more than impressed with the quality of the beef show he judged on Saturday morning. The meat goat judge was equally complimentary. “I haven’t seen such equality in a goat show this Summer as I’ve seen here. Your exhibitors are doing a fantastic job with these animals.”
The swine judge, who had just finished a National show in Indiana, compared many of the entries he observed in the livestock pavilion on Friday morning to the Championship Drive in Indiana – a compliment to the hog producers here in Palo Alto County.
Yes, there have been changes to the fair over the years – a couple buildings have been razed and replaced with new, modern structures, the Open Air Pavilion became a welcome addition to the grounds and improvements to the horse arena have made it a top quality facility.
By the same token, the fair has become an educational opportunity for not only 4-H and FFA exhibitors, but for the public as well. Educational presentations in the country schoolhouse attract crowds, and the public gets a great opportunity to see what agriculture is about when they come to the fair.
But, in the end, the fair belongs to the youth in our county – the 4-H members, Clover Kids, FFA exhibitors and Open Class participants – as their showcase for their projects and a way to present what they’ve learned about agriculture and rural life. Without them, there would be nothing to celebrate at the fair. And, without the countless volunteer effort of adult leaders, parents, family members, community members, Extension Staff and the Fair Board, but most importantly you, there would be no fair.