The all-new Webster County Fair

The Webster County Fair isn’t just about the animals; in fact, it isn’t just about 4-H exhibits. The Webster County Fair Board has been hard at work bringing in new activities and attractions to make it fun for more people, said board Vice President Karen Anderson.

That doesn’t mean the traditional things aren’t important, though.

At her family farm near Lehigh, Torrie Ferrari, 18, has been busy caring for her heifer calf. She brushes it with a rotary brush attached to a power drill every day, twice a day. She cleans it cares for its hair and makes sure it stays cool.

“She’s the best calf I’ve ever had, so I’m focusing on her,” Ferrari said.

It takes a lot of time, but Ferrari thinks it’s worth it: “I’ve pretty much modified my entire life around cattle.”

She and her sisters do more than just raise cattle. Usually, Ferrari does a sewing project for the fair also. This year Jossie Ferrari, 17, will have a photography exhibit and Jaynie Ferrari, 11, will show a calf, bake cookies and show an apron she made.

Sewing has been a useful skill for them.

Jossie Ferrari said, “Our family gets a lot of people wanting us to fix and mend things. Torrie made a prom dress before.”

“It seems like indoor exhibits are almost a bigger deal at our county fair than the livestock,” said Torrie Ferrari.

A lot of kids in town get to be involved in it too, not just kids on the farm,” Jossie Ferrari added. “Then they kind of see the point of agriculture.”

There will be about 270 exhibitors at the fair between 4-H and FFA, said Linda Cline, Webster County youth coordinator.

Ashton Acree, 13, doesn’t live on a farm or raise livestock. He will bring artwork, an educational presentation and live performance to the fair.

“I just did an educational presentation on backpack awareness,” Acree said. “We talked about how to properly use a backpack without injury. There were at least 2,100 reported cases of back injury from backpacks in the last few years, treated in hospitals, doctors’ offices and clinics. I thought it quite interesting.”

The presentation was judged earlier, but will be displayed at the fair booth.

He also made a write-up on how to make a healthy smoothie, full of fruits and vegetables – kale, spinach, parsley and beets.

It’s not bad, he said.

“I enjoy it. I usually have it every day for breakfast,” Acree said.

One of the hardest parts about 4-H is finding enough time to complete everything, especially as he gets older and has more music and sports commitments. The time is well-spent.

“I love it. It’s taught me a lot about public speaking, and I meet tons of friends,” he said.

Libby Anderlik, 18, of Lehigh, and her sisters show sheep and cattle. Libby and Maggie Anderlik, 12, are entering quilts this year, while Abby Anderlik, 16, made a shelf out of discarded tin pieces, like something she’d seen in an antique shop.

“It’s hard getting up in the morning,” Libby Anderlik said. “You want to be a normal teenager, and do stuff with friends at night, go to movies, stay out late. But then reality sinks in, and you have to get up in the morning and wash your heifer.”

She said she enjoys county fair more than the state fair, in many ways.

“I think it’s more relaxing. It’s not as stressful, so you can actually have fun, and you know everybody,” she said. “You can be more involved at the county fair level. At the State Fair, you’re just one person out of hundreds, thousands of people. At the county fair you can actually have an impact on it.”

Anderson and the rest of the fair board hope that a whole new set of people will come out based on their new events.

“We’re calling it the all-new Webster County Fair. We totally revamped it,” Anderson said.

There will be a pony pull, an antique tractor pull and a trailer race. Vendors who frequent the state fair will be on hand selling red velvet funnelcake.

The Pella Wildlife Expo will give five shows on Thursday.

“They are bringing in wildlife from around the world,” Anderson said. “An American alligator, sulcata tortoise, fennec fox, a snake that’s a native species, African pygmy hedgehog and more.”

Anderson is also excited for the Rich Weiber BMX stunt show on Wednesday, she said.

“He does a lot of things with DARE and SADD,” she said. “He has a passion for inspiring people of all ages to go after their dreams.”

There will also be an open photography exhibit, with entries taken from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday.

“Anybody can come in,” Anderson said. “The fee is 50 cents per entry. The rules are on our website.”