Siouxland County Fair Time, Moville

1 Aug

Growing up in Illinois, in a rural area, I remember the summertime visits to the local county fair. It was at a time when there were many more small farm operations throughout the region. Probably at that time a large farm contained at most a thousand acres. I talk about the number of farms because I believe they directly impacted the success of such organizations as 4-H clubs and the Future Farmers of America. At that time, more kids involved in 4-H were from farm families than from town.

I visited the Woodbury County Fair this week in Moville, Iowa, and saw some animal judging and walked through some exhibit halls as well as the animal barns. I talked with one young Siouxland lady who was “resting” on her market beef animal and asked about the number of clubs participating from the area. This was her fourth year involved in 4-H. I participated for eight years as many people do. She thought there were maybe 5-6 4-H clubs participating at the fair. When I was in 4-H, there were maybe 15-20 4-H clubs with anywhere from 20-30 members, each showing one or more animals at the fair, as well as crafts and it was huge. The dairy animals were always shown a couple weeks prior to the county fair with maybe 100-150 animals involved. During fair time, the beef animals ruled, with three full barns, with additional barns for hogs. There were maybe 200-300 4-H members involved.

But times have changed, less small farms, such 4-H members now live on small acreages their parents or grandparents own and they raise the hogs, beef, or sheep there. But the one thing that still pervades these young people’s involvement is their pride in their animals and their exhibition of them. I came across two club members cleaning the comb of a chicken and its talons so they would be clean for the animal judge. There was one barn that featured the work of the 4-H club members that included crafts, photography, food and other categories. It is fun to walk through these and see what has changed, and what has remained the same. For me it’s a nostalgic walk but also it supports those still involved with this part of Americana. History based in agriculture, which is still a big deal. Or should be. No food, no life.

jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

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