56 years showing at Clay County Fair
By ROBYN KRUGER
SPENCER – Not only did this year’s dairy show at the Clay County Fair continue a 56-year stint for Gary Wolter and his family of Allendorf, it also marked Wolter’s 75th birthday. With 2012 wins of grand champion Jersey bull calf; placings of second, third and fourth in the yearling Jersey heifer class and first place in Junior best of 3 bred and owned by exhibitor, he is celebrating.
Wolter has made showing his Jersey cattle a family affair since purchasing his first cow as a teen in the early 1950’s.
“That first cow came from Merle Simpson, of Spirit Lake, and I had to wait to purchase her until Merle was finished showing her that year,” Wolter said. “That was the first of many Jerseys I bought from Mr. Simpson.
“One time I left (wife) Jessa home to milk and I traveled to Wisconsin stopping at dairies along the way, picking up new Jersey stock.”
One of those long gone Wisconsin cattle was the great-grand-dam of many of the cattle in the small herd he owns today.
Wolter said he quit milking in the early 1990s. “So many people say to me, I bet you don’t miss milking those cows do you?” said Wolter. “Yes, I do miss milking those cows. It was a very satisfying feeling to walk into that barn full of cows.”
Wolter has remained active in raising his breeding stock. Though his herd is very small, around 10 cows, six of which are being milked at Summit Farms inc., in Lester, owned by Rodney Metzger.
Wolter raises and feeds out the calves after weaning on his farm in Allendorf. When Gary sold his milking herd, he wanted to make sure they went to a small tie-stall operation. Metzger’s operation was a good fit,” Wolter said, adding he feels good about the care they receive there.
In 2004, he sold half interest in his herd to Allen Graves, of Hartley. Allen advises him in herd decisions and helps Wolter to get them show ready. The two enjoy showing the animals together at the Clay County Fair.
Graves also took them to the Iowa State Fair this year. “In years past I did a little more exhibiting than I do now, but Clay County is one I never miss.” said Wolter.
The Gary and Jessa Wolter brought their children to the fair when they were young and showing their animals became a family affair.
The Wolters have two children. Delane Wolter lives in Seattle, Wash., with his wife, Kris, and their three daughrters Paige, Cammie and Kristin.
“Along with showing cattle Dad has kept this family farm going for many years,” Delane Wolter said, “and has endured many things without complaint.
“He has proven to be a great example for us in every aspect of life including leading us to the Lord.”
Renae Wolter, the couple’s daughter, lives “just down the road” and said she still enjoys assiting on the farm or at the fair with the animals.
“Dad has been an awesome father to my brother and me. He’s a wonderful grandfather to my three nieces, and loving husband to my mother. I love him dearly.
“I’m grateful for all the good memories our family has had together at the Clay County Fair. I’m very proud of my father’s dedication in going all these years.” she said.
Jessa Wolter recalls, “We spent many years hauling cows and kids to the fair. Later on we were lucky to have the grandchildren here to get in on the fun.
“When the grandchildren lived closer, they came each year to help grandpa out at the fair. All enjoyed sleeping in the barn, doing chores and caring for the animals during their fair stay.”
Gary Wolter said Jessa has played a big part behind the scenes.
“When our kids where young, she stayed home, took care of the kids and milked the cows. Now I think she enjoys coming down to the fair just as much, if not more, than me. We have made so many friends here in this barn through the years.”
Wolter has survived two heart attacks and said he is not sure how many more years he will continue, but is sure he would miss showing cattle if he stopped.
The family still enjoys time on the farm together, where, as Delane Wolter said, “Time stands still and we can enjoy each other’s company and just be a family.”
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