Preparing for Dickinson County Fair
By KAREN SCHWALLER
Farm News staff writer
SPIRIT LAKE – Although county fair season is still several weeks away, anticipation is already running high for 4-H and FFA members and their families.
Those planning to showing livestock at the Dickinson County Fair have selected their animals and, on April 14, tagged and weighed sheep and goats at the county fairgrounds in Spirit Lake.
The fair’s sheep and goat committee members assisted 4-H and FFA members during the weigh-in process.
Ellie Von Ehwegen, 10, is a first-year member of the Lloyd Victors 4-H Club from Terril, and is the daughter of Robert and Tammi Von Ehwegen. She brought three goats to the weigh-in.
“When I came to the fair (in other years) I saw a lot of goats. They were cute and funny,” she said as to why she chose to show goats in her first year of 4-H. “I picked them because they were easy to handle – not too big and not too small. They are fun to work with.”
Von Ehwegen and her brother, Kort Von Ehwegen, 13, have begun their project from the true start on their farm, being present when their goats were born this year.
“It was disgusting,” Von Ehwegen said as she laughed at the memory.
Aside from that process, she said she hopes to learn more about goats as she works with them between now and fair time.
“I want to learn what’s good for them, how many times a day I should feed them and if they are sick, to know how to get them healthy again,” Von Ehwegen said.
Kort Von Ehwegen, 13, is experiencing his fourth year with the same 4-H Club. He also brought three goats. He said his goal is to make a little money on them this year.
“I want to keep at least one of them back so she can be a mom,” he said. “So far we have four moms and six babies at home.”
Kort Von Ehwegen said all of their goats are named, and that he saw four of the six kids be born.
“This is a fun project to do,” he said. “It’s fun to watch them play and they’re fun to take care of.
“If you’re there when they’re born, they come to know you first and get to like you right away. Goats are fun.
“They all want to jump around and sit on your lap.”
Dakota Kraninger, 17, is a seven-year member of the Milford Pioneers 4-H Club, and son of Jim and Lisa Kraninger. He brought two goats to be weighed in, and said the goats he’s brought in the past have done “fairly well.” He won senior showmanship at last year’s competition.
This year, he said he wants to improve the way his goats show, and to make a little money while he’s at it. He’s going for top placement in the coveted “Rate of Gain” competition.
“I’m going to start working with them a little earlier this year,” he said. “Cattle are my favorite (animals to show), because I’ve been around them the longest; I’ve had them every year.”
Dakota’s younger brother, Cody Kraninger, a six-year-member of the Milford Pioneers, who brought one goat weigh.
He won second place in senior showmanship behind his older brother in 2011. He said he’s received blue ribbons on his goats in the past, and that this year he’s hoping to get top placement in the senior showmanship competition.
Among other things, he’s bringing pigs to the fair for the first time because he wants to learn more about them.
“I want to see how many things I can show at the fair this year,” he said. “I’m planning to show everything but horses.”
Cody Wernimont, 14, is a five-year member of the Superior Lakers 4-H Club, made up primarily of members who live in the Spirit Lake area. His parents are Melvin and Sonya Wernimont.
He plans to show a feedlot pen of sheep, as well as individual animals. He also brought four goats to the weigh-in. He’s brought sheep all five years of his 4-H career, and this will be his third year for showing goats. His goats have done well in the past, he said.
“I’ve gotten reserve grand champion in goats before,” he said. “In my feedlot (sheep) project, I got reserve grand champion my first year, and got grand champion and reserve grand champion in my second year.
“With my goats I hope to get grand champion, and with my (feedlot) sheep, I hope to continue getting the grand champion award.”
Wernimont said he’s in 4-H not only because of community service opportunities, but because it’s a time to share with friends.
“It’s exciting to show animals with my friends, and I get to watch the animals grow up, and I get to be involved in the daily chores,” he said, adding that he also helps to set up and tear down animal exhibit areas for the fair with his club.
He said his favorite project so far is goats, because they’re calmer and easier to handle.
“Sheep are jumpy,” he said.
Unofficially, the sheep and goat committee weighed in 159 sheep and 63 sheep on the morning of the weigh-in. Sheep numbers continue to be steady, but the number of goats coming into the Dickinson County Fair continue to increase tremendously, said Doug Loerts, committee chairman.
“With the goat projects, it’s all about economics. They’re inexpensive to get into, are easy to care for, they don’t take a lot of space to keep, and there’s not a lot of care for them,” he said of reasons why the numbers climb each year. “And besides, they’re just cute.”
The first goats shown at the Dickinson County Fair was in 2007, when four or five 4-H and FFA members came into the show arena with them.
Since then, the numbers have done nothing but expand, Loerts said.
“We learn more with goats each year we have them here,” Loerts said. “It’s still a learning experience. You don’t have a lot of money tied up in goats for a 4-H or FFA project.
“They’re more like a pet. (And since) it doesn’t take much to feed, water and house them, or even break them to lead, it’s an easier project for the younger kids. It’s just a good learning experience.”
Loerts has been a member of the sheep and goat committee for the past 18 years. His children have been out of 4-H for 10 years now, but he and his wife, Teresa, are still going strong helping with 4-H in more than one area.
“We felt our kids got that much out of 4-H,” he said. “This is our time to give back. When you see kids involved in 4-H and FFA, you can see that they’re just a step above – they gain valuable experiences.
“People who complain about kids today should come to the fair and really see what our kids can do.”
Loerts said it’s hard to get the sheep and goat committee together because those people are busy with jobs and family commitments, but that his committee is dedicated to understanding the reason they’re on the committee in the first place.
“It’s all about giving the kids a positive learning experience. That’s why we do all of this,” he said, as he watched the youths move their sheep and goats through the weigh-in pens.
The Dickinson County Fair will be held July 22-26, with sale day being on the last day. Weigh-in day will be a distant memory by then, and the youths will move from the gleeful anticipation of weigh-in day, to the sorrow of farewells for animals of which they’ve cared and worked.
And with any luck, they’ll have a little more knowledge and experience under their belts by then, and a nice paycheck to help dry the tears.
Contact karen Schwaller at email@example.com.
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