A fairtime finale

Even a dog named Cody had a story to tell Sunday at the Webster County Fair. Fortunately, his owner was prepared to share it with the audience.

“Each day I wake up and bark really loud so my owners will let me outside,” said Jessica Shirbroun, 11, of Callender, speaking for her pet.

Shirbroun told Cody’s story of what he likes to eat, his daily routine, and how he slows down toward the end of a walk because he wants to stay outside.

Thanks to her hard work, Shirbroun was awarded the “Best pet story” award in the 4-H pet show Sunday afternoon.

Winners were also picked for the best display and best presentation overall, said pet show judge Afton Holt. She said it is hard to pick just one winner, though.

“They know so much about their pets, in terms of care and feeding,” Holt said. “We had a lot of unusual pets, too.”

Sugar gliders, hamsters and chinchillas were found along with fish and dogs at the show.

The kids also had to explain how much the animals cost, since understanding expenses is an important part of 4-H, Holt said.

Samantha Dischler, 16, of the Washington Winners 4-H club, said costs for her pony depend on what kind of winter you have.

“It’s close to $500 to $1,000 per year,” Dischler said. “It’s about $7,000 to fill up your car with gas every year.”

Hannah Lentsch, 18, of Fort Dodge, entered her pet rabbit, a 1-year-old Holland lop named Chip.

“In the rabbit show, they examine the rabbit,” Lentsch said. “Here is more informal. You basically explain your pet and your pet’s story.”

Sunday afternoon also held the Share the Fun competition, where 4-Hers gave any sort of performance from singing to instruments to storytelling.

Emma Stuhrenberg, 14 and Erin Eldridge, 12, of Clare, performed a clogging routine to “Deuling Banjos.”

“We choreographed it ourselves,” Stuhrenberg said.

Dartangan Dohrn, 13, and Lilly McMahon, 15, performed a song from “The Hobbit,” and added costumes to help look the part. They were one of three groups who will go to the state fair.

“I dressed as a dwarf,” said Dohrn from behind his thick fake beard.

“This is my first time to sing up on a stage in front of everyone,” McMahon said. “It’s a little nerve-racking, but it was really fun.”

Linda Cline, Webster County Extension youth coordinator, was happy with how the fair had gone this year.

“With all the new attractions, we had a new crowd come in to watch,” said Cline. “New people said they want to join 4-H, so that’s exciting.”

Maddy Christensen, 13, of Gowrie, was also having a good time. She’s been in 4-H for years, and competed in the dog show again this year.

“It’s a lot bigger this year,” Christensen said. “It’s nice they have the rides here this year because it brings in more people.”

She was also impressed by the Pella Wildlife display earlier in the week.

Next to the food vendor, “Farmer Bob” was making balloon animals and putting on a show for the kids with his outlandishly decorated John Deere tractor and trailer.

Antlers on the front wave back and forth. A stuffed squirrel carrying a rifle and wearing hunter orange is mounted to one bumper. Water spurts from hidden nozzles, and hillbilly nicknacks cover the whole surface.

Bob Hill, of Dysart, said he’s either Farmer Bob with the tractor or Hillbilly Bob with a similarly decorated truck, depending on what the event warrants.

“I’ve been doing this for 21 years,” he said. “I’ve been to 41 states and to Canada, doing my Farmer Bob act.”

Hill really is a farmer, but he hires much of his farming done now as he travels to fairs and other venues. His contraption for the day was a 1949 John Deere MT.

“It’s the same age I am,” he said.

He sat by the tractor for a brief respite, but soon was surrounded with kids again and crafted a balloon monkey that could climb a balloon tree.

“Yesterday I had kids lined up about 25 deep all day long,” he said. “I love these small town fairs, where kids can just have a good time.”