Judges examine barn decor at the fair

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
— The Wild Wild West to All-American Beef was just a few of the barn decorations themes at this year’s Rock County 4-H Fair.

Armed with clipboards, score sheets and pens, nine Retired & Senior Volunteer Program volunteers split into groups to judge 4-H and FFA clubs’ decorations in six barns—beef, dairy, goats, sheep, pigs and rabbits.

Leading judges Alice Hessenauer and Donna Reay, both of Janesville, and Roberta Woods of Orfordville was Ashley Morton, a past member of LaPrairie 4-H and Clinton FFA.

“Let’s start at the beef barn, which is straight ahead, then we’ll go to the dairy barn,’’ Morton told the women.

Hessenauer said the farm-themed wallpaper border that captured barns, cows, pigs, chickens, hens and corn shocks, was appropriate for Harmony 4-H Club. Woods liked the personal touch of posting the 4-Her’s name and breed of animal each was showing.

“It looks like they put some thought into it,’’ Woods said.

Before moving on to the next decorations, the women scored the farm theme in four categories that could earn 0 to 25 points for a total of 100 points. This included creativity, neatness, appropriateness and/or use of a theme plus overall appearance.

“It makes it easier when you have criteria to judge on,’’ Hessenauer said.

Stick-on plastic eyes were mounted next to the phrase: “Beef: The Ones to Watch,’’ by members of the Newark Pioneers 4-H Club.

“We all decided on the theme at our last 4-H meeting,’’ said Amanda Roden, 18.

The theme represents how the judges will be watching them in the show ring and how the 4-Her’s show their animals, said club member Brooke Suddeth, 13.

“I like the message. It’s a cute idea,’’ said Reay.

Plymouth 4-Hers took three hours to decorate their barn area Sunday and used all donated and recycled materials—rope made from braided hay baler twine, cowboy and cowgirl hats and boots—except for $50 of material to create a red bandanna backdrop.

“This is great and very country. They put a lot of thought into it,” Woods said.

It’s representative of a cattle round up, Hessenauer said. “Beef don’t come in like dairy cattle,’’ she said.

The theme is suppose to reflect “living the dream on a ranch,’’ said 12-year-old Plymouth 4-Her Sara Kearns.

Two of the judges couldn’t figure out what the rock-n-roll theme with guitars and records dangling from musical notes and lights above the show boxes had to do with the 4-H fair until Hessenauer asked a Turtle 4-H Club member about it.

“Her dad used to show beef back in the rock-n-roll era,’’ she said.

“We like to rock-n-roll and I think our decorations are pretty cool compared to everyone else’s,’’ said 16-year-old Mallory McConnell.

Just how cool they are will be determined by this group of judges who would view up to 60 clubs’ decorations in 2˝ barns before their afternoon of volunteering was over.

“It’s hard,’’ Woods said. “I know they all put their hearts into this.’’

Reay agreed: “It’s a little more difficult than I thought it would be. Everyone is trying to do a nice job.’’

The top four themes in each barn will vie for cash prizes of $20, $15, $10 and $5. Winners will be announced Sunday and published Monday in the Gazette.

Last updated: 9:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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