Fair lessons

For Dillon Summers, 9, of Fort Dodge, getting into the show ring at the Pee Wee Bucket Bottle Calf Show at the Webster County Fair with his calf Grinder was a first.

For both of them.

Summers had a plan, though.

“Look at the judge.”

Summers has had Grinder since the steer was a few days old. Initially, he had to bottle feed him. Then he switched over to feeding shim grain from a bucket.

The first time doing that was a trial.

“He head butts you,” Summers said. “I didn’t know you had to stand to the side.”

Summers’ mother, Crystal Summers, was on hand Friday to watch her son – and Grinder – in the ring.

“We’re excited and nervous,” she said.

Grinder moving in was a new experience too. The family had previously only had horses.

“This was a whole new chapter,” Crystal Summers said. “We turned the stall into a cow stall.”

Grinder and Dillon Summers have spent a lot of time working together, He has to feed, walk and fly spray the steer every day. In addition, they’re working on the head butting which, apparently, is nothing personal.

“He head butts everybody,” Crystal Summers said.

Cory Greiman, of Garner, was the judge for the Friday cattle shows.

He said that the bucket bottle show serves an important function for the youths.

“It’s an introduction to larger market animals,” he said.

Once in the ring, Greiman looks over the animal and gives the newcomer a few words.

“I encourage them,” he said. “It’s a fun experience.”

Greiman enjoys the exchange.

“Some of them really open up and talk to you,” he said.

Morgan Walsh, 9, of Barnum, was also participating. Before going into the ring, she got lots of advice from family members.

That included making sure that she holds onto the lead rope close to the calf’s halter, as well as something else that is very important.

“Don’t let go and scratch your head,” Walsh said.

Once in the ring, she did the first – but not the second.

Walsh and Summer were participating in the Pee Wee division for youth not old enough to be in 4-H yet. Later in the show, a bucket bottle calf event is held for those who are.

Blake Peterson, 10, of Callender, is a member of the Gowrie Groundbreakers 4-H Club.

He began prepping his calf – Cocoa – Thursday afternoon with a bath.

Friday morning, with help from fellow club member Drake Erritt, 11, Cocoa was getting a good brushing, trimming and lots of attention.

The biggest challenge?

“Trying to keep her under control,” Peterson said.

He’s had Cocoa since it was two days old and went through the bottle feeding stage already.

“He still tries to nibble on your finger,” Peterson said.

After the fair is over, Grinder will be enjoying some quality cud chewing time.

“We’ll take him home,” Crystal Summers said. “He’ll get turned out to pasture.”

The Webster County Fair continues today with a host of activities, including an antique tractor pull at 11 a.m., kids pedal pull at 1 p.m. and the Fort Dodge Growth Alliance-sponsored Sweet Corn Feed from 5 to 7 p.m. Tickets for that are $7. Admission to the fairgrounds is free.