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Raising good people: Family, hard work the secret to fair success

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.”

Anthony Wahl 

Tucker Peterson, 14, of Evansville 4-H, tries to keep his pig guessing about the path they’ll walk as they round the house twice daily. Changing the path each time, day and night, helps the animal heed commands and prepares it for the show ring in the fair.

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.

Anthony Wahl 

Grace Quade, front, and Anna Quade practice in their backyard getting their crossbred market lambs into judging position before the upcoming Rock County 4-H Fair.

‘A big deal’

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.

Anthony Wahl 

4-H leader Jessie Wileman demonstrates to Renegades 4-H Club members Tuesday afternoon how to properly show their rabbits for judging next week at the Rock County 4-H Fair.

‘The cutest animals’

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.

Obituaries and death notices for July 17, 2019

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

top story
Janesville to add safety upgrades at town square after boy falls into Rock River


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.

McCue said the rope would span partway across the river and serve as a lifeline if a person got swept downstream in the current.

That’s what happened to the boy July 7, officials say.

He and a friend were unsupervised at the town square and stretching over the edge of the town square’s floating dock, trying to reach a metal canoe and kayak slip attached to the pier.

The boy slipped and fell in the river, according to police reports. The current pulled him several hundred feet downstream, and the boy struggled to stay afloat as police worked from atop the river wall to toss him a rescue rope.

Eventually, the boy caught the rope, and a fisherman in a boat nearby helped police pull him to safety, officials said. The boy was exhausted and scared, police said, but otherwise uninjured.

After the incident, McCue said he met with members of the police, fire and public works departments to discuss possible safety upgrades at the town square.

The area, which is off South River Street on the west side of the river, has stairs that lead into the water. The stairs and adjacent floating pier have no barriers to prevent children from going into the river, and the park has no posted warnings against swimming or about the sometimes-swift current.

One Janesville man who often visits the town square told The Gazette last week that the “Bubbler”—an interactive, water fountain-like sculpture—is viewed by families as a “splash park” and has become a “magnet” for children. The man said some children he sees at the town square are unsupervised.

McCue said the city has no plans to place additional fencing, barriers or railings around the lower part of the stairs or pier area.

He said the pier area was designed to give canoeists and kayakers unimpeded access in and out of the river.

McCue said the city is ordering an emergency flotation device. He said city officials must discuss the floating safety rope idea with the state Department of Natural Resources to determine whether state law allows it.

McCue said since the boy’s accident, officials have gotten feedback from parents about safety at the park.

“Frankly, most of them were of the opinion that, you know, adults need to supervise their children, and you need to be careful around the river,” McCue said.

The woman whose boy fell in the river didn’t want her or her son’s name used because she said the family is in a program for victims of domestic violence. She said since the accident, she has talked with her son about the dangers of open water.

She is now leery about him going to the town square unsupervised—even though she said he is old enough to walk home from school by himself.

The woman thinks the city should put up “3-foot” safety fences or barriers to make it harder for people to reach the open water or fall in the river.

She said in Beloit, similar pier areas along the river have “3-foot-high” safety fences that kayakers simply hoist their boats over.

“I mean, that could have been an elderly couple on that pier, you know, sightseeing, and they stumble and fall,” she said. “It could have been a drunk guy leaving the bar or something and falling down there.”