I love 4-H kids.
They are awesome, and every year when I get to hang around them as part of the county fair that level of appreciation for who they are and what they do only rises.
If you had the chance to visit the county fair this past weekend (if you didn’t you missed a good one) I hope you made the time to walk through the livestock barns and the 4-H general projects exhibit building.
While I had the privilege of telling the stories of a couple of those 4-H members in advance of the fair, I could spend months telling you more of them and their accomplishments.
Let me share with you a few examples.
Before the fair officially started, I watched the rabbit show, and during that event I talked with Noah Netzke. I have watched this recent high-school graduate grow up as a boy showing rabbits to a young man who has developed a talent for music and for making electric guitars.
For the past three years he has exhibited his musical handiwork at the fair, and, to be honest, I never would have imagined Noah to be one who would create a version of an Eddie Van Halen guitar let alone play one.
To say that sibling rivalry has the potential to be a major issue during livestock shows would be an understatement, as there were many of those 4-Hers who showed their animals right alongside their brothers or sisters, and I never got the impression of any tension as they showed.
Of course, there were a few grins that appeared when a younger sibling’s animal outperformed that of their older brother or sister. Yet, that level of competition never seemed to create any animosity. (Of course, as a dad of a few 4-Hers, I realize there is the chance some of those conversations may have happened when people like me were not listening or watching.)
A couple of young men took sibling support to the next level, as they not only showed in the same species, they offered a higher level of assistance to their sisters.
Both Sawyer Otto and Chad Maddock have siblings that need a little extra help in the ring, and while they could have found any number of reasons to work on their own animals for their shows, they made the time to walk side by side with them in the ring helping them show their animals.
I think that is pretty amazing, and, quite honestly, as I watched them it nearly brought me to tears.
The 4-Hers worked in some pretty challenging conditions, especially Friday, and as they showed their beef cattle, dairy cattle and sheep that day I did not ever see anyone get angry or even frustrated with their animals when they did not cooperate simply because they were dealing with the same heat.
If you will humor me for just a minute I am going to make this a little more personal.
As I mentioned, the Krause progeny was very busy at the fair this year, although there were plenty of other kids who showed more species than they did.
This was the first year that my Martha and my Gideon showed livestock at the fair, with Martha showing both chickens and dairy.
Gideon showed dairy this year, but he has confirmed next year he will show some chickens, too.
The positive experience they had I am convinced can be directly attributed to the support they received from their older siblings.
It makes this dad pretty proud to watch my Amos, Anna and even Miriam, who does not show livestock, helping out their little brother and sister.
That mom of theirs must have done something right along the way.