Behind the scenes at the State FairFALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — The 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 23 to Sept. 3, are known for their food — especially the ones on a stick, entertainment, as one of nation’s largest state fairs and all the different animals you can see.
By: Olivia Drehmel, The Republican Eagle
Editor’s note: Olivia Drehmel is a sophomore at the University of Minnesota majoring in animal science with a pre-vet emphasis. During her 10 years with the Belvidere Happy-Go-Luckies 4-H Club she showed dogs, goats and horses and did quilting. She took a livestock media trip to the 2012 Minnesota State Fair where she did interviews, took photos and wrote this article.
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — The 12 days of the Minnesota State Fair, Aug. 23 to Sept. 3, are known for their food — especially the ones on a stick, entertainment, as one of nation’s largest state fairs and all the different animals you can see.
However there is more to the fair than meets the eye, specially the 4-H livestock weekend. When most people think of the 4-H livestock weekend at the State Fair, you hear cries of animals, people laughing, animals roaming the fairground with humans, see signs of all the counties in Minnesota and see kids taking care of the animals.
What most people don’t see or know is how the 4-H’ers spend their free time between shows, caring for animals and eating. Down time includes playing cards, hanging out in tack areas, seeing old friends from different counties, meeting new friends and laughing at the things the public says. More importantly, all the time and hard work that the 4-H’er has invested to accomplish this goal fulfills the dream of advancing to the State Fair.
Through the trials and triumphs, a 4-H’er works all year to get to this place where the best of the best compete for the exclusive prize of top of animal species in the whole state.
Over the first five days, the Minnesota State Fair becomes home for 2,786 livestock 4-H’ers and 2,826 animals are shown from the 87 counties. The weekend includes 113 4-H’ers from Goodhue County, varying from first timers to seasoned veterans.
The 4-H’ers take part in showing their animal, taking care of the animals, hanging out with friends and what most people don’t know is doing an interview in their respective animal species. An interview is required for all participants. The interview tests 4-H’ers’ knowledge in their respected animal species.
If 4-H’ers do well enough in the first round of the interview, they move on to the next levels and get a shirt sponsored by AgStar saying Livestock Interview Finalist (and the respected year). The interviewee Grand Champion and Reserve Champion for all species receive a chair.
Each species can receive ribbons from white on the bottom to purple on top. The top animals receive grand and reserve champions of their classes. Market animal species selected by the judge enter the Purple Ribbon Auction.
To Derek Stehr, from the Zumbrota Busy Bees, the State Fair means everything. To Clarie Gronseth, from Spring Garden Jolly Juniors, the State Fair means that you worked hard accomplishing the goal of getting here.
Aly Schwartau says, “The State Fair is an opportunity to show people who are not involved in agriculture how we take care of our animals.”
“A typical day is waking up, feeding your animal, walking the animal, have free time, walk animal again and feed” says Brianna Ryan of the Goodhue Gesundheits.
The State Fair has many different exciting parts to it. Brittney Ryan, also of the Goodhue Gesundheits, enjoys showing her goat, going to the dance, hanging out with new people and making it up to the fairgrounds.
Amber Altendorf, from Belle Creek Peppy Peppers, said her favorite memory is last year being in the Purple Ribbon Auction with her market barrow.
Last year, I came to my first State Fair with a senior doe kid goat. I was an interview finalist in the dairy goat project and received a purple ribbon in novice showmanship. The 2011 State Fair was the most amazing and best experience of my whole 10 yearlong 4-H career.
All the hard work and dedication led to an unexpected success that was hoped to be reached again. However, it was not that case.
Instead, I came to this State Fair on a livestock media trip to promote 4-H through interviews, article and candid photos, which was a great experience.