Tag Archives: 4-H

Fair Time in Siouxland, Woodbury County Fair, Moville

15 Aug

A show pig appears to be looking for a way out as its owner participates in a 4-H/FFA judging event at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Rural Iowa in Siouxland would never be complete without a county fair in the summertime. Or elsewhere in other states for that matter. As a child I spent a few summers participating in 4-H events with projects and remember some fondly, and others that may not have gone as expected. And fairs have a long history, originally beginning in England as a sort of religious celebration according to some online sites.

According to a history site the first county fair in the U.S. took place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1807. Sheep farmer Elkanah Watson wanted to promote better farming practices and held a sheep shearing demonstration and contest. Probably happy with its success, Watson began developing agricultural fairs that included contests and activities for the whole family.

While trying to maintain control of their animal entries, 4-H/FFA members of various county clubs also need to stay focused on the event judge during a competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A 4-H/FFA member preps his sheep for showing at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And in Iowa according to another site it was in 1841 that an exhibition was held exhibiting a particular cattle breed. An Agricultural Society created an event to show off cattle of the Durham breed, the first such exhibition west of the Mississippi River. In 1855 the Agricultural Society created the Lee County Fair in Lee County and thus began county fairs. And others in most states with agriculture began their own fairs. It was a chance for “country folk” to get a day off and maybe show off some of their livestock or produce they had grown. And fairs have changed over time, adding carnivals, and two youth groups, 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of American) were started to offer young people interested in agriculture and farm type living than now includes organic a space and place to pursue those interests.

A bunny “exhibit” for a 4_h member a at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Animal owners like the 4-H member and owner of this rabbit puts an ice water bottle in the cage to help keep the animal cool during sweltering temperatures during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022. Large fans were also deployed throughout the barn areas to keep the air moving during the fair. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Visitors enjoy the rabbit exhibits of 4-H/FFA members at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

For 4-H and FFA members the county fairs are the place to show off their work for the year and compete with like-minded individuals and maybe go to their state’s fair to compete amongst their peers, the “championship games” equivalent to sporting events. And these days 4-H clubs are not limited to only “kids in the country” like when I was growing up, and the various activities and kinds of projects has greatly expanded beyond just animals. Although some members whose parents might own small acreage can raise rabbits, chickens, goats or lamps as well as other types of projects that might include nutrition, photography, art, explanatory projects involving building or cooking.

A 4-H/FFA member cuddles her kitten before competing in an event during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The cat looks calm wearing its leash/bib during a 4-H/FFA competition during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A kitten looks very sedate from all of the affection and attention during a 4-H/FFA competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But county fairs also harken back to a little country nostalgia that those farming might enjoy. Collecting and exhibiting older “antique” farm tractors is now an expensive hobbies, akin to those who collect and show off model A and T cars and those muscle cars of the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Older style tractors and in some cases, “antiques” on display at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Older farm tractors are as collectible to some folk as antique cars seen at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And then there is the carnival side of fairs and the rides that all kids, no matter the age, still enjoy and look forward too.

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A county fair wouldn’t be complete without carnival rides see at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some of the events are a bit fun-filled for the kids as in a pie eating contest that was more whip cream slurping than actual pie eating. And though I didn’t watch all of it, a few of the younger ones seemed a bit unsure if inhaling all of that topping was actually going to stay put. And no “spill buckets”.

Happy about winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Standing nonchalantly after winning the age division pie eating, well whip cream slurping contest, while a volunteer holds another contestant’s pigtails to keep them clear of the whip cream during the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

The Fair Queen makes sure this particular contestant gets plenty of whip cream to slurp during a “pie eating” contest at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

In the end though, for those that compete at the county fair, bringing home a blue ribbon or best of show or even a championship trophy still tops the list of accomplishments.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Showing off some “fancy booties” a prize winning goat entry for a 4-H/FFA member is held for a commemorative photo in the winners circle at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa Thursday, August 4, 2022 (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Seeing and Experiencing Art in Siouxland at the Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

Something to crow about seeing chicken art on display for visitors at the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs can be pretty universal in that they can provide a little something for everyone in Siouxland. Art not withstanding. Some things may seem a bit kitschy but still enjoyable and certainly on some level, educational. The Arts on Grand organization is a support group promoting local artists. And part of that support was putting an artist on the grounds of the fair where people could talk with and observe an artist creating their art.

A member of the arts organization Arts on Grand from Spencer, Iowa films artist Cathy Veiseth doing an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Some folk may not think much about art or the people to create it. Many visual artists create their visions through whatever medium they have an interest in whether it be some kind of painting, oil, watercolor or pastel, photography, sculpting or ceramics. All artists create. And it’s could for folk to see someone create a vision they may have in their head and understand how what a person sees is translated into a completed work. I didn’t see the finished product of Spencer artist Cathy Veiseth but did chat with her and was engaged in her enthusiasm for sharing her talent with fairgoers and her general want of expressing herself. Different artists have different driving factors for creating their finished pieces, but all seem genuinely interested in sharing what they see and their interpretation of the world around them.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Spencer, Iowa artist Cathy Veiseth talks with a passer-by as she does an acrylic painting during the Clay County Fair in Spencer Iowa, Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying a Fair History Trip in Siouxland, Plymouth County Fair, Le Mars

6 Sep

The display about the farming milk industry is on display in the Round barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One aspect of county fairs I enjoy is a history component that some fairs offer to visitors through exhibits, celebrating Siouxland’s past and what may still be relevant in this day and age. With the Blue Bunny Ice Cream company located in Le Mars it is not a stretch when an exhibit about dairy farming is presented in the historical Round Barn at the fairgrounds. Dairy farming is not for the faint of heart. It’s a become a 24-hour operation with the larger scale “industrial” type of dairy farms. After all, it’s America, and to continue to thrive bigger is always better and these days necessary.

The Round Barn has been a fixture at the Plymouth County Fair grounds for years in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A display about the milk industry and farming on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a dairy farm though I remember my dad milking in the early morning hours and then again early evening. Even with a small herd, it’s a twice-a-day operation 365 days of the year with no days off and seldom any vacations. But farming is that, a calling with a dedication and a willingness to always be on call as needed to get the necessary chores done and enjoy life, while certainly hard at times, had rewards many people seldom experience.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

A display about milking and its role in farming is on display at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A small display about barns is seen inside the Round Barn at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

The Pioneer Village has food booths, a blacksmith shop and other places to browse as well as a small outdoor stage where performances occur at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A popular place in the Historical Village at the Plymouth County Fair is the Bakery Shop in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Summer Means Siouxland Fair Time, Le Mars

5 Aug

Quilting samples and one fair-themed quilt showing at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes photos of her daughters at a cutout at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Growing up on a farm in Illinois now makes me a little wistful when I visit county fairs in Siouxland. I tend to go a little earlier than then and spend time watching 4-H and FFA kids exhibiting their animals and realize the amount of work they have put into such projects. One needed to care for an animal as well as log information about it’s feeding and care. A daunting task for 8-14 years old kids. Now there is even more competition for their time than when I was a child.

4-H competitors trying “guiding” their charges during a competition at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

It’s not all glamour for the Pork Queen as she hands out ribbons at the conclusion of a 4-H showing competition during the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But that part of the fair still generates interest among those who participate and their families and friends. Competition and winning and losing is all part of the “building character” schtick that comes with participating. And rarely do I stay later when the fair’s rides begin and those other activities come to life. Especially when it’s hot. I tend to bail. Find a food stand or someplace in the shade and a tad cooler. But walking around the animals barns one can find all sorts of interesting scenes. Those members intent on preparing their animal or following the latest development elsewhere.

A young 4-H member tries to brush her steers while also keeping up on social media during the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A steer gets a soap bath before competing during 4-H competition at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

But most members of these organizations take their competition to heart. I never really cared if I got a blue, red or white ribbon. It was being there and seeing friends or neighbor kids one probably wouldn’t see for another month until school started. And of course taking in the Midway where the carnival barkers try to entice one to spend a little money or ride the ferris wheel and other rides. So I can only smile when I see someone enjoying them self and think back to my time spent of the fair, participating in 4-H for 9-10 years until I aged out and left for college. And for these young members hopefully this will be a time they too can look back on and cherish or at least fondly remember the better times as they grow and become interested in other activities which may entice them away from these organizations.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Young 4-H members wait to show their chicken projects at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A chicken rests contently in the arms of its owner as she waits to compete at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Photography exhibit at the Plymouth County Fair in Le Mars, Iowa Saturday, July 27, 2019. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Enjoying the Attractions at the Fair in Siouxland, Clay County Fair, Spencer

8 Oct

When I visited the Clay County Fair this fall it had been a couple of years I think. I tend to roam about the place looking at the sites and people and stopping by the photography exhibit which is fairly expansive. And it’s fun to see the talent that is presented at the fair. And when I am ready for a rest and a bit to eat, I find my food then look for a venue to enjoy it. There are always artists there sharing their talent. One such person I met is singer Jill Brees Bar, born and raised in Spencer, and with a gifted voice performs there singing ballads and other songs she says she is happy her children can listen to.

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, does a quick Instagram post before performing at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, shows off her boots before performing at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Singer Jill Brees Bar, of Spencer, performs at one the stages at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A saw a magician performing some interesting magic and having fun with the crowd. Comic Magician Jerry Frasier did some slight of hand, both doing his magic and also trying very hard to get a recalcitrant audience to react, even when his tricks seemed pretty amazing. It was a fun show to see.

Then I for a bit I watched an Elvis Tribute band perform, Forever Elvis, with singer Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band. I remarked to some people that even though the “King” himself had been dead for a few decades, his music and those performing it still packed in the crowd. Kistler was true to Elvis’ spirit and the audience responded and it was a nice way to spend part of the time at the fair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An Elvis Impersonator, Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band perform at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Though the King has been dead for many years, Elvis Impersonators, such as Art Kistler and the EP Boulevard Show Band, can still pack them in as they perform at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Siouxland’s County Fairs, Clay County, Spencer

30 Sep

Every summer I try to attend a couple county fairs. But haven’t been too successful the last couple of years because of conflicting schedules. This year though I did travel to Spencer to visit the Clay County Fair. It’s a rather large affair, bigger than some closer to my home but still encompassing those quintessential elements that all county fairs incorporate. One is 4-H and FFA where kids exhibit their projects for the year whether it’s agricultural in nature or another kind of project.

Controlled chaos as 4-H members show their sows during a competition at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

And people stroll the midway and take in the sights that only fairs offer.

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A mother takes a photo of her kids with her phone during the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A family enjoys the rides at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

One young boy was admiring his freshly painted “ghoulish” face in the reflection of a doorway, not noticing a photographer standing nearby. Another couple was immortalizing their visit to the fair together.

A young boy checks out his newly painted face in a reflection of a doorway at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Jayden Helbing, left center, an Bailey Houston, right center, and both of Sioux Rapids, get their caricature drawn by Rex Rubenzer of Wisconsin at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

County fairs are where people come for a little down home entertainment. Some may think it a relic of the past but for small communities it’s one of those passing seasonal venues that people look forward to, relaxing (unless you are a 4-H parent), the chance to eat “bad” fair food like Funnel Cakes and cotton candy, take in some wholesome entertainment and a chance to forget about day to day activities. And these days, hopefully no politicians stopping by to impress people. A place where sometimes families enjoy reunions.

A family finishing taking a reunion photo catches another photographer taking a picture as well at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

So fairs can wear one out walking about and taking in all the exhibits but people still do it and enjoy it and look forward again to next year to repeat the affair.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Sometimes too much fair time can take a toll on a person as a man catches a nap in the shade at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A scene at the Clay County Fair in Spencer, Iowa Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Siouxland’s Summer Fairs, Woodbury County

24 Aug

Summer fairs continue with a celebration that is still somewhat grounded in honoring agriculture. Midways have been added with rides, talent show contests, but still the fairs are comprised in a large part by 4-H clubs exhibiting their animal and other projects. The Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa, is no different and it gives young people a chance to show skills and learned activities other than sports in school.

But mostly it is a time to celebrate another year and look forward to the next.

 

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Farm equipment continues to grow in Siouxland, Woodbury County Fair

2 Aug

While visiting the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa, this past week, I checked out the antique farming tractors and walked around some of the newer pieces of machinery on display. As corporate farming takes hold, and smaller farmers are forced to buy more land to compete, the equipment needed to cover so much ground continues to grow. In fact some of the tractors and wagons are just monstrously huge. If you fell from one of them to ground, you would be seriously hurt. But the contrast in size is just unbelievable.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux CIty, Iowa

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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