Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fair kicks off Monday

EVART — It's going to be a record-setting year at the agriculturally-centered Osceola County 4-H/FFA Fair.

The number of animals and 4-H'ers for the annual fair, which begins Monday, July 24, and runs through Saturday, July 29, is projected to be higher than ever before, said Rick Sherman, president of the fair's board of directors.

"We just had our fair board meeting, and all of the superintendents are reporting that the numbers are up — way up," he said. "We're really scrambling to put all the animals someplace.

"Once the dust settles, everything will be fine."

Sherman said numbers for beef, dairy, turkeys and pigs will be a challenge.

"We're just really scurrying, getting enough pens around for what will be there," he said. "We'll get by. We always do."

The midway, which will host T.J. Schmidt and Company amusement rides, and grandstand events remain popular.

"We always bring in a lot of rides, really clean rides and some fun rides for the older kids," he said. "We're also going to have the garden tractor pull and horse pull, and we're getting some really big trucks, some big diesels, coming in for the truck pull.

"The antique tractor pull and farm stock tractor pull are a lot of fun," he said.

Several 4-H shows, including rabbits, cavy and poultry kick off the fair on Monday. The livestock judging contest will take place at 7 p.m. The garden tractor pull is set for 7 p.m. at the grandstand.

Tuesday is Dollar Day, as T.J. Schmidt and Company will open the midway from 3 to 10 p.m., with each ride costing $1. Tuesday’s events include goat judging, grand trail and Western riding horse shows and the youth and open class beef and dairy beef judging. The kids’ pedal pull begins at 1 p.m. The heavyweight horse pull begins at 7 p.m. at the grandstand.

Farm Bureau Day and Kid’s Day is Wednesday. Farm Bureau’s annual chicken barbecue begins at noon and T.J. Schmidt and Company is offering buy-one, get-one free armbands from 1 to 3 p.m. for the midway. Throughout the day, 4-H’ers will show swine and sheep inside the corral.

Dairy, horse, llama and alpaca judging will run throughout the day on Thursday. The market chicken, rabbit and goat auction begins at 6 p.m., with the buyer’s appreciation dinner set for 5:30 p.m. Along the midway, anyone who delivers a canned good to the fair office will receive $5 off the regular $20 armband. The truck pull begins at 7 p.m.

Friday is themed Date Night. Horse and pony judging will take place in the morning and midway rides open at 1 p.m. Cirque Amongus, a program introducing kids to the fundamentals of circus arts such as juggling, movement and balancing, will be from 1 to 5 p.m. It is free for all children. The market livestock auction begins at 6 p.m. A buyer's appreciation dinner will be at 5:30 p.m. The antique tractor pull begins at 7 p.m.

Community Appreciation Day at the fair will be Saturday. There will be themed shows for horses, goats and rabbits. Sweepstakes showmanship will begin at 2 p.m. and the Ag Olympics begin at 6 p.m. There will be two farm stock tractor pulls on Saturday at the grandstand. Four classes will run at 5 p.m. and five classes are slated to begin at 7 p.m.

No matter what other attractions are scheduled throughout week, Sherman said the fair is agricultural-minded.

"Our kids really have fun," he said. "They are here to show their animals. They're not coming for the carnival, they're coming for the agricultural part of it."

Osceola County 4-H Coordinator Jake Stieg said he and others are preparing for fair week as they normally do.

“We’re getting stuff around and making sure we have enough room for all the animals,” he said.

Stieg said fair week represents the culmination of many hours of hard work by 4-H’ers of all ages.

“Some of our projects — the beef and dairy beef projects — started in October of 2016,” he said. “They were picked out and the kids have basically been with that animal since November.”

Stieg added goat, sheep and pig projects began in March or early April, and poultry projects began in May and June.

“It’s great to see these kids start the year with a project and it's a privilege to see these kids at the Osceola County Fair,” he said.

The 4-H coordinator said other animal projects take longer.

“Our horse youth and dairy youth, they’re with them 365 days a year,” he said. “For the breeding stock for all species, the 4-H’ers are taking care of these animals year-round. There are educational requirements, weight limits and guidelines, and we hope they hit them so they present the animals at the fair."

Stieg said the county’s agricultural social event of the year takes place on Friday, July 24, at the livestock auction at 6 p.m.

"It's a great way to come out and support these 4-H'ers and our 4-H program," he said.

Sherman said he expects fair week to be a lot of fun.

"It's a busy week, but we have a lot of help," he said. "The superintendents help a lot. They camp right here and work all the time. We just more or less organize the stuff and they take it from there."

Sherman said camping events like the Dulcimer Funfest, Woodcarvers Roundup and Honda Goldwings make the fair possible.

"They come in throughout the year and all the money goes to support our fair," he said.

Sherman said the forecast for fair week looks to be really warm, but he isn't concerned.

"The heat is always there and our kids do really well with it," he said. "They freeze gallons of water and they keep the animals cool. We have a lot of fans in our swine barn and we spent $4,000 on new fans for ventilation."

For a complete schedule for the fair, visit osceolacountyfairgrounds.com.