Tucker Peterson shared a smile as he led a large pig under a wooden playhouse outside his Evansville home Monday.
The barrow released grunts and oinks, and the 14-year-old Peterson laughed while he walked his daily laps with the animal in preparation for next week’s Rock County 4-H Fair.
Getting ready for the fair is a monthslong process for hundreds of area youth.
The Peterson family has participated in the fair for years.
As the Tuesday, July 23, start of this year’s fair approached, the Peterson family reflected on fairs past. As Mom, Heather, and Dad, Eric, looked at a picture board in the barn, they were reminded of the impact the fair and the related hard work has had on the kids.
“You can see them growing and changing. We stood here and were talking about how much they’ve matured and grown up,” Heather Peterson said.
“We’re really proud of them. We hope to raise good animals, here, but we want to raise great kids and good people, too.”
Grace, 16, is the oldest Peterson sibling. She got into the fair and 4-H because her parents both showed animals growing up.
“We can knock heads sometimes, but it’s a good project, and we’re really good with it together. I enjoy it a lot,” she said of working with her siblings.
Grace will show a steer named Benny, which she has had since September, and a lamb. Her sister Ellie, 11, and brother Tucker, 15, will show lambs and pigs. Tucker won grand champion market lamb at last year’s fair.
The siblings got the lambs and pigs in April and get up every morning to feed, walk and groom the animals for an hour. They repeat the process at night to avoid the midday heat.
When Tucker went on a trip earlier this year, his sisters took care of his animals. He said family is important.
“You all work together, and you help each other. We couldn’t do it without each other,” he said.
Ellie has the benefit of being the youngest, so she’s been taking notes.
“I think it’s pretty fun to have older siblings because they’ve been through the years and have more experience, so they can tell you how to fix stuff and make you better,” she said.
Twenty-seven miles away in Milton, the Quade sisters have been preparing for the fair, as well.
Anna, 18, is in her last year showing lambs at the fair. Her sister Grace, 16, also shows lambs, and the two show turkeys for Milton 4-H, as well.
The pair spend about an hour every day working with the lambs, walking and grooming them to make sure they are ready to compete. They set up the animals in the proper poses to prepare them for judging.
Fair time is a big celebration for the Quade family. Relatives arrive from Minnesota, Seattle and other parts of Wisconsin for the event.
“Some of my favorite memories with my family are at the fair, and that’s just really special,” Anna said.
“It’s a big deal in our family,” she said.
And while the siblings have their occasional clashes, Grace will miss competing with her sister after this year’s fair.
“It’s really nice because we get to hang out together a lot. I’m glad she does it with me because it would be hard to do it without her,” she said.
In Edgerton, members of the Renegades 4-H Club have a hub for learning how to care for rabbits.
Jessie Wileman is a leader for the 4-H group. He houses more than 400 rabbits on his property, teaching the kids all they need to know about showing the big-eared creatures at the fair.
He fell in love with rabbits at age 6. His parents were 4-H leaders, so he thought he would share his passion with others.
“I enjoy teaching them how to examine rabbits, pick out their own animals and basically just have fun with the project,” he said.
Madisen Zych, 15, said the ability to hang out with friends and family while learning about rabbits at the Wileman farm is a big plus.
“It’s a great opportunity. They’re, like, one of the cutest animals ever, so to be able to hold the rabbits and to take care of them teaches responsibility, and it’s just really great,” she said.
Cole N. Ansier
Peter “Pete” Arthur Barrett
Karl M. Black
Pauline J. Kant
Michael Williams Landers
Dale Lee Olson
Beatrice Louise (Koch) Plucinski-Schlorb
Esther M. Puhl
Bonny J. Zerr
Public safety upgrades at the ARISE Town Square can’t come soon enough for a Janesville woman whose son fell in the Rock River while playing with a friend on the pier July 7.
“I’m afraid. It was an honest mistake, an accident, but it could have been very fatal,” the woman said in an interview with The Gazette this week. “So I don’t want to be by the river at all. I don’t even like driving over there. For now, we just won’t go there.”
Since the boy’s fall from the pier, city officials are working to install new safety devices that will be close at hand if anyone at the town square ends up in the river.
Deputy City Manager Ryan McCue on Tuesday said the city plans to place a “throwable” emergency flotation device at a station near the floating pier, which is intended as an access point for kayakers and canoeists.
He said the city also is considering installing a floating “safety rope” that could be attached to moorings at the Court Street bridge just downstream from the town square.