The Iowa State Fair is for the birds
By KRISS NELSON
DES MOINES -“Nothing Compares to State Fair Thrills” is the theme of the 2017 Iowa State Fair that is running through Aug. 20.
On opening day of the fair, Aug. 10, poultry project owners went before judges in hopes their fine feathered friends would be the top of their class.
Two Fort Dodge-area teens competed in the poultry show and together had over a dozen birds at the Iowa State Fair.
Emma Alstott, 14 and a member of the Douglas Dreamers 4-H club in Webster County, entered her four chickens and two ducks at the Iowa State Fair and earned all six blue ribbons.
Alstott said she had Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Lavender Orpington chickens and two Pekin ducks entered into the poultry show.
Later in the fair, she will be showing her rabbits as well.
At the county level, Alstott said her ducks received champion pair and reserve champion water fowl and she received blue ribbons for her ducks.
Because she did so well at the Webster County Fair, she wanted to give it a try showing at the Iowa State Fair.
“It’s kind of nerve wracking and exciting,” she said. “It means a lot to be here.”
During the poultry judging, Alstott said she has to be prepared to not only handle her birds, but to be very knowledgeable about each breed.
“You have to tell the judge about your ducks and chickens, he will pick it up, and examine every part of the duck or chicken,” she said. “I will go to the site where I get my chickens and ducks from and look up different facts to help get prepared.”
Alstott’s time with her poultry goes beyond show day as she has a lot of responsibility for them.
“I take care of them every morning and night and tame them,” she said. “I tame them by petting them and the ducks get fresh water every day.”
She added they can be tamed just like a dog or a cat.
“I used to have a chicken that would follow you around and skateboard,” she said. “We had a skateboard out one time and he just jumped on it.”
Training, she said, is made a little easier with the help of cackleberry treats she gets for the birds from C&S Products.
Alstott said she enjoys her poultry projects and chose them mainly for logistical purposes.
“I live in town and can’t have very many animals, and these are a small enough pet that I can have,” she said. “And they’re just different than other animals.”
Alstott recognizes that she wouldn’t be at the Iowa State Fair showing her poultry projects if it wasn’t for being in 4-H.
“4-H is a big part of my life,” she said. “I never would have been able to speak in front of people and come down here to show.”
Anna Lewandowski was also a part of the poultry show at the Iowa State Fair.
Lewandowski is 16 and a member of the SonRays 4-H club in Webster County. She brought seven chickens down to the Iowa State Fair that represent several different breeds including Sicilian Buttercup, Sumatra, Silky and Plymouth Rock among others.
Lewandowski said entering into the poultry show at the Iowa State Fair is like entering an open show – in other words, you do not have to earn your way down by making a certain place at the county fair.
“I came down last year, just to see how it all is, and I really enjoyed it and it’s fun,” she said.
Lewandowski received one red ribbon, six blue ribbons and one purple ribbon. The purple ribbon was for reserve champion honors for her Continental chicken.
In addition to her seven chickens, Lewandowski performed a piano solo in the Share The Fun competition and the obedience class with her dogs.
Although she enjoys her time at the Webster County Fair, she looks forward to the variety available at the Iowa State Fair.
“Competing like this really makes you feel more part of the fair and it’s really fun,” she said. “Everybody here is really friendly, it’s just fun and there’s a lot of stuff to do.”
Much like Alstott, Lewandowski has a lot of responsibility for her poultry.
“I take care of the whole thing. I pay for them, take care of them – they are basically my thing, so I do it all,” she said.
Lewandowski admits, however, she hasn’t always had a passion for poultry.
“At first I didn’t like birds. I used to say I was allergic to chickens because I hated them so much, but then I got older and my brother had ducks and I just took over,” she said.
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