Temperature falls short of record at Rock County 4-H Fair

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staff, Gazette
Thursday, July 26, 2012

— Though Wednesday temperatures were high enough to break into triple digits, they were not high enough to break records—or spirits—at the Rock County 4-H Fair.

Janesville hit a high of 100 degrees, according to unofficial readings at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. Official weather readings for the city taken daily at the wastewater treatment plant are not available until the next day.

But Wednesday's high was far from the record. The temperature in Janesville reached a scorching 108 degrees on July 25, 1934, according to Gazette weather records. Temperatures have hit 105 or higher during the last week of July six times in the past 92 years.

It was still plenty warm at the fair, where Brian Buenzow of Janesville had one of the hottest jobs on the fairgrounds. He ran the fryer at the Janesville Breakfast Optimist Club food tent.

"We're throwing ice chips in the fryer to get it down to 350 (degrees)," Buenzow said in jest. "The Optimist Club cheese curd show must go on."

No animals at the fair died in the heat.

"The kids did a grand job taking care of animals today," said fair board President Rob McConnell. "No pigs had any trouble today, even though it was show day."

Exhibitors kept their animals cool by taking them out to wash racks and spraying them with cold water. A steady, low roar of fans could be heard throughout the livestock barns.

Improvements to the buildings also helped keep things cool. New pens installed in the swine barn and large overhead fans installed in each of the show barns increased air circulation in the buildings.

Stephanie Kvalheim and Dean Peterson, both of the Rock Valley Veterinary Association, volunteer their veterinary services during fair week and play an important role in helping the animals cope with the heat.

"The heat is stressful on the animals, poultry and rabbits especially," Peterson said. "The owners and kids are aware of it, though."

Jack Gunnink, 14, of Bradford 4-H was working to keep his two barrows cool Wednesday afternoon. Gunnink said he adds ice to the hogs' water canisters and wipes them down with a brush dipped in ice water to fight the heat.

"It might have been this hot Monday when we were bringing them (pigs) in to the fair," Gunnink said.

When combined with the stress of transportation, Monday's 99-degree high was potentially more dangerous for the animals, Peterson said.

"Most commercial hog operations don't ship during the day," he said. "Unfortunately, we're stuck doing the loading during the day."

Fair hogs are shipped to the meat processor early Saturday morning, when roads are emptier and temperatures are lower.

One person at the fair needed medical attention for heat exhaustion, but that individual was not transported to a medical facility, according to the Rock County Communications Center.

Last updated: 5:12 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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