Youth reap success at Osceola County Fair

EVART — After a week filled with animal judging, exhibitions, rides and more, the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fair has again proven to be a successful and enjoyable experience for its participants.

"I'm sad it's done," said Jacob Stieg, Osceola County 4-H coordinator, on Aug. 1, the fair's final day. "I'm sad because we do so much work prior to the fair, and then fair week gets here and it's done and over with in the blink of an eye. Sometimes I wish fair could last more than one week. The kids are the energy here and the fair is a community."

Hundreds of 4-H'ers gathered at the fairgrounds in Evart, decorating their individual animal pens and stalls, grooming and washing their livestock and reuniting with friends. The week began with sweltering heat, which created some concern for 4-H'ers and the livestock, but situations were handled with care until the final days of the fair cooled off.

"We made sure all the kids understood they and their animals need to stay hydrated," Stieg said. "We also made sure water was

available to the men and women helping in the arenas. It cooled off later in the week and we had a little bit of rain on sale night, but nothing too serious. We made it through."

From July 27 through Aug. 1, dozens of children and teens were honored with trophies, ribbons and prizes for their work with animals or still exhibits. Each could be seen trying their best in the show arenas with their horse, pig, goat, sheep, cow, steer, rabbit and guinea pig.

"When we have the high quality caliber of the showman we have, I'd want them to compete with other individuals on the same playing field," Stieg added.

Hersey resident Tyler White, 17, was one of many youth who received top awards throughout the week. During the beef show on Tuesday, he received the trophy for overall beef showman.

"I'm at a loss for words," he said after winning the award. "I've been doing this since October of last year, and it's been a lot of work."

White has been in 4-H for about 10 years and has shown beef for about four years.

"I enjoy creating relationships and building strong bonds with the animals," he added. "That's what makes 4-H fun for me."

Last year's participation had increased from the year before, and Stieg believes the trend continued this year with large intermediate, junior and tykes and toddler classes. In fact, the number of tykes and toddlers showing dairy calves spiked to about 50 and the 4-H'ers who participated in the Ag Olympics reached to about 170. Both events broke attendance records.

"The numbers are up all the way around with participants in the barns and people walking through the barns," he said. "I was blown away with the hundreds of people who were here for the sale nights. It was a great fair week. We have individuals who have been aged out for nine years and they come back and help out. Some of them have kids here and that's where our numbers are being driven.

"This has been, by far, the best year here. We had excellent showman, we had decent weather, but overall we're bursting at the seams and I'm looking forward to what 2016 brings. We keep having record-setting years, and that's a good sign that Osceola County 4-H is strong and still up and coming."