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For many area kids, fair is about meeting, catching up with friends

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staff, Gazette
July 30, 2012

— For many exhibitors, the Rock County 4-H Fair is a highlight of the summer.

Usually separated by miles of country road and acres of cornfields, rural youth from across Rock County converge on the fairgrounds for one week in late July to spend time with their fellow 4-H and FFA members.

Exhibitors have a variety of ways to pass the time during the fair while they tend to animals.

Abigail Tollakson, La Prairie 4-H

Just before noon Thursday, Tammy Tollakson was reading a book on her Amazon Kindle in the dairy barn while her daughter Abigail was on barn duty for La Prairie 4-H.

Abigail is showing a yearling heifer and a calf. Abigail's brother was playing a Pokemon game on a Nintendo DS.

Tammy said her daughter was getting anxious for show day.

"She's been ready to show since the fair started," she said.

Jorie Andrew, Magnolia 4-H

Andrew was lounging in the shade east of the swine barn with fellow 4-H'ers from Johnstown and Lima. The group was playing go fish and listening to country music on WJVL radio.

They pined for the halcyon days when couches could be perched above the swine pens and along Randall Avenue. That practice was banned a few years ago. The group reminisced about couch-based euchre tournaments.

"A lot," replied Elin DeRemer, when asked how much she missed the couches in the swine barn. "It really sucks, because now we have to lay down on the hardwood boards."

Swine supervisor Mark Gunn said the couch ban was implemented as a means to improve ventilation in the barn.

DeRemer said she passes the time at the fair by playing with the pigs.

"There's really nothing else to do," she said.

Mitch Buchanan, Clinton FFA

Buchanan was in the dairy barn looking after cattle Thursday afternoon with fellow Clinton FFA member Glenn Baumann. When asked how the two pass the time during the fair, Baumann motioned with a sandwich he was eating for lunch and said, "Thisójust hanging out, eating, listening to music, maybe we'll play some card games."

Buchanan said he been showing at the fair for 10 years. While his excitement for the event has diminished since he was younger, he still enjoys it.

"It's still a highlight," he said. "I like coming here and looking after the cattle."

Richard Burkheimer, Fulton 4-H

Burkheimer was in the dairy barn with fellow Fulton 4-H'ers Dylan Nelson, Robert Reilly and James McGuire. The group was passing the time by playing euchre. Once a staple, the game seems to have fallen in popularity.

"We're still playing it," Burkheimer said.

McGuire said he had arrived at the fairgrounds at 6:30 a.m. to milk his cows and likely would stay until 10 p.m.

Austin Lynd, Clinton FFA

Lynd was at "MickyFest" hosted by Micky and Therese Coogan at 1413 E. Memorial Drive, just north of the beef barn. The Coogans' front yard is decorated with Christmas lights and a tent, and there were beverages and food on tap Thursday night.

Lynd said he has been showing at the fair for five years and has attended MickyFest every year. The highlight of the fair for Lynd is the rides.

Coogan said he first started throwing the party for his General Motors co-workers in 1973. Since then, the event has expanded in scope, bringing in retirees, exhibitors and fair officials.

"When the fair goes on, we just throw a little party," he said.



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