At the fair

The Webster County Fair is more than just spectacular livestock and daredevilry, it’s a showcase for the diverse talents of the county’s youths.

Bill Riley Jr. hosted the 54th season of the Bill Riley Talent Show. It was his 15th year hosting the show.

“It’s a thrill for me, ladies and gentlemen, to keep this thing going in Fort Dodge, right smack dab in the middle of the state,” Riley said Wednesday.

Riley thanked the show’s organizers and judges for “coming together, volunteering time to give these young Iowans an opportunity to perform.”

“These people have passion,” he said. “All we want to do is let these young Iowans do what they love to do, and that is perform and entertain.”

KD Waltz took first place in the “sprouts” division for preteens for her singing performance, with Lydia Whitski and Laura Steinkamp taking second and third place. Angel Waltz took first place in the senior division for teens for her singing performance, with Hallie Struecker and Maggy Steinkamp taking second and third place.

Linda Cline, Webster County Extension youth coordinator, said the fair, in its first day Wednesday, was “doing great.”

“The weather cooled down a little bit so that will help with the livestock coming in, with the humidity,” Cline said. “It might be a little hot by the weekend, but that’s okay. That’s what fairs usually do. We had a great day Tuesday with exhibit judging day. We have the dog show today. Things seem to be working.”

As 4-H coordinator, Cline said it is rewarding to see the culmination of a year’s worth of efforts from the county’s 4-H’ers at the fair.

“It’s a great feeling because I get to see how hard they worked, or see how they mature from one year to another,” she said. “If they had an exhibit last year and the judge told them to do something better, and they did that, that’s the fun part, that ‘a-ha’ moment that they get it. Or taking leadership on county council and doing activities and being here and providing that leadership to the county.”

Cline said the fair and its exhibits are an affirmation of 4-H.

“4-H develops life skills and they are getting out of it what they’re supposed to get out of it,” she said.

Karen Anderson, Webster County Fair Board vice president, said the fair already has been “busy and fun.”

“It’s nice to see a lot of activity, lots of vendors coming in,” she said. “It’s going to be a good week.”

Anderson said she enjoys seeing the efforts of the 4-H youth on display.

“4-H kids all got judged yesterday on their auditorium things. Animals will be coming in later today, and then we’ll have animal shows for the next three days. Horses, swine,” she said. “It’s great to see all the people out here and they’re enjoying themselves; the vendors and all these people putting on shows, it’s awesome.”

Anderson also enjoys being a part of the county fair tradition.

“We have done this down through the family. It’s fourth generation for us, for 4-H. And I love watching the kids grow each year,” she said.

Of all the offerings at the fair, including a hypnotist, BMX demonstrations and visits from Pella Wildlife, Anderson has her favorite.

“The red velvet funnel cake,” she said. “I haven’t had time to try it yet, but I’m going to get there.”