Fairgrounds—Home away from home

Ross Niewoehner works diligently to clean up his cow pen at the Howard County Fair. He and his family made at least 11 trips over to the fairgrounds to care for their animals.

By Marcie Klomp

Fair week is always filled with excitement for kids and dread for parents of 4-Hers with animals. If nothing else can keep a family together, having a kid in 4-H will. Parents need each other, grandparents, older siblings and leaders to keep track of everything that needs to be done!

Ross Niewoehner’s family is a prime example. There are always farm chores to do, but during Mighty Howard County Fair week multiply that times two and add in the 17-mile drive to the fairgrounds morning and night.

Tuesday evening Ross and family brought his and sister Jessica’s cows to the barns. They had to be unloaded, put in the pen, have bedding and be fed and watered. (Trip one)

Wednesday morning, dad John brought them. Ross said, “We got here about 7:00 a.m. and had to clean the pen, feed and water the cows, wash and dry the cows and put fly spray on their legs.” Everything had to be done by 9:00, when the Open Class Bucket Calf Show took place. Then bedding had to be checked. “I have to get the poop and pee out of the pen,” Ross explained. The cows also need to be fed and watered. “We go home about 1:30, so I can go to work,” said John. (Trip two)

Wednesday afternoon around 5:00, mom Candy brings the crew back over to check the animals, and maybe take them for a walk in the arena, before going to the Grand Stand show. After the show, the animals are checked again. (Trip three)

Thursday morning is a repeat of Wednesday. Ross said some time is spent checking out the other animals. Home again around 1:30. (Trip four)

Thursday afternoon arrive around 5:00 with Mom and check the animals. The family sticks around for the Grand Stand show. Check the animals again before heading back to Lime Springs. (Trip five)

Friday morning, back with Dad to check on the animals. Leave early afternoon. (Trip six)

Friday afternoon and it’s back to the fair with Mom. No Grand Stand on Friday and no rides (those are saved for Sunday afternoon). Back home. (Trip seven)

Saturday morning is another show day. At the fair nice and early to wash and dry the cow, style the tail and brush the cow. “You want them to look really nice,” said Ross. Go to Junior Beef Show at 9:00. Home again. (Trip eight)

Saturday afternoon time to check on the animals again. (Trip nine)

Sunday is the day of reckoning—Ribbon Auction Day, and the last day of the fair. The animals are again fed, watered, washed and dried and brushed. The pens are cleaned. After the Ribbon Auction at 12:30, the kids are ready for the rides. John loads the animals up to take them home. (Trip 10)

He then turns around and goes back to the fairgrounds with the van to take the family home. (Trip 11)

Multiply this by how many families have their animals at the fair! It would be nice to think Monday is a time to kick back and relax, but not so for the Niewoehners as Vacation Bible School started on Monday!

And John has to go to work to save up for the next year to help pay for gas for the next Howard County Fair!

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