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Many visit Grandpa’s Barn

By Staff | Sep 17, 2010

Grandpa’s Barn is new to the Clay County Fair this year. It's located in the former sheep barn on the fairgrounds and is home to a variety of young stock found on the farm. The barn was meant to teach all ages a little bit about farm life and give people a chance to see the animals up close.

SPENCER – Its outward appearance is humble and quiet, but what’s inside is making a big splash at the 2010 Clay County Fair.

Grandpa’s Barn, located in the former sheep barn, is filled with nearly every kind of young stock found on a farm including hatching chicks, ducks, lambs, miniature ponies, calves, kid goats – complete with a farrowing unit and a sow nursing her piglets.

Cheryl Hurst, of Spencer, is an organizer of this new fair project, said it was easy for her to get involved, since it was the brainchild of her husband, Phil Hurst. He is the Clay County Fair manager.

“Two weeks before the fair, it dawned on Phil that the sheep barn was going to be empty,” she said, adding that the sheep shown at the fair are now housed in the new livestock pavilion, which replaced the swine barn that collapsed under the weight of excessive snow last winter. “Phil said something like, ‘Let’s do a Grandpa’s Barn and fill it with baby animals.'”

Hurst said there wasn’t much time to get it done, but her husband insisted that it could be done. The Clay County Farm Bureau got involved, along with a handful of other people who took the idea and ran with it.

Eli Hummel, 3, of West Des Moines, gets a chance to see what it's like to hand milk a cow. He is the son of Alan and Deb Hummel.

The animals all came from local producers, with the exception of a plastic simulated milk cow.

“It has udders, and gives people a chance to see what it’s like to milk a cow,” she said. “A watery substance comes out.”

The farrowing display was donated (and is staffed) by students at the College of Agriculture at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg.

“It’s really been nice having (the ag students) there because of the help they provide,” Hurst said. “Once you bring the animals, you still have to care for them and clean up after them.”

Theresa Schoelerman, another of the Grandpa’s Barn creative team, suggested bringing in a saddle for kids to sit on, along with hay bales, farm-related games, and other country decorations.

Martha Kinnaman, 6, of Sioux City, and Simon Korthals, 4, of Ocheyedan, pet the miniature ponies. Kinneman is the daughter of Corey and Karri De Raad, and Korthals is the son of Paul and Tara Korthals.

The barn is going over even better than organizers had anticipated.

“The first Saturday of the fair was a huge day,” Hurst said. “Grandpa’s Barn was so busy that you could hardly walk through it. We realized pretty quickly that we needed more fans in there.”

The feedback she’s been hearing is that it’s very crowded, and Hurst said she guessed that it was a good problem to have, indicating to those involved that there was an audience for this kind of display.

Hurst said there were a couple of high points that came with getting this project going.

“It was a lot of fun watching it come to fruition, seeing it develop,” she said.

Haley Rose Williams, 16, of Buffalo Center, checks out the piglets in the farrowing display, which is sponsored and staffed by agriculture students at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg.

“But for me personally, it was the most fun seeing people step up to the plate and take responsibility in the ways that they did. They worked their hearts out. That kind of spirit has been the most fun.”

What will be the future of Grandpa’s Barn?

“Next year I’m sure it will be bigger,” Hurst said. “This year they used half of the barn to house horses, but I’m thinking that next year we’ll be able to use the whole barn.

“It would be fun to have a cow in there, dropping a calf, during fair week next year.”

Contact Karen Schwaller at kschwaller@evertek.net.

Keyshawn Smith, 2, gets to see what baby chickens look and feel like.  He experienced a little bit of farm life in Grandpa's Barn with his grandmother, Dixie Jackson, of Spencer.

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