Fair challenges

EMMETSBURG – Sheep are a bit hard to manage, but even more so when you really want them to stand still and look good for a judge at the Palo Alto County Fair.

Megan Brown, 14, of West Bend, has five years of experience with the woolly critters as a member of the Fern Valley 4-H Club.

The most difficult aspect in the ring?

“Trying to get them to sit up.”

Brown has even moved beyond showing them and has learned how to shear them.

“I’m not a pro at it yet,” she said.

She recommends the species to other 4-H youth with a caveat: “If you like a challenge.”

Rebecca Bonnstetter, 14, of Cylinder, had her hands full with her own ewe, Ruby. A member of the Independent Boosters 4-H Club, she has two years of experience showing sheep.

She likened working with them to another common critter.

“They’re like dogs,” she said, “sort of.”

She added an explanation. “They eat everything they can.”

Sheep vary a bit in personality, she said. Some are nicer than others.

“We had issues with her,” Bonnstetter said, referring to Ruby.

Matt Pearson, of Grove City, Minn., was the ring judge for the show. He’s a veteran.

“I grew up doing this,” he said. “I really enjoy working with kids that are enthusiastic about the livestock industry.”

Pearson was getting a hand in the ring from Palo Alto County Fair Queen Lidia Reding, of Cylinder.

“I love handing out the ribbons,” she said.

The fair means long days for the queen.

“I got here at 6:30 this morning,” Reding said. “I don’t know what time I’ll get home. Last night it was 11.”

Reding doesn’t mind, though. She said getting to spend some extra time with friends is a highlight of the fair, right up there with showing her own cattle and swine. She’s also a member of the county council that plans activities for the fair and she’s the youth representative on the fair board.

Jayden Kutschara, 7, of Livermore, was working with a brush to get her calf ready for the bucket bottle calf interviews. In case they asked, she was ready to tell the judges how Oreo got his name.

“Cause he’s black and white,” she said.

Kutschara has put plenty of hours into preparing for the show.

Her chores?

“Walking him, washing him and brushing him,” she said.

The Palo Alto County Fair features a building of commercial exhibits. Among those is a booth hosted by the Palo Alto County Health System where Ami Frohling, a nurse from the Mercy Hospital Heart and Vascular Institute, was offering peripheral artery disease screenings Friday.

Ted Strain, of Estherville, took her up on the offer.

“They’re doing it for free,” he said.

It appeared pretty pain-free and easy; all he had to do was lie on a table for 10 minutes or so as a monitor took his blood pressure at each ankle, kept track of his pulse and other fair attendees did a double take when they walked by.

Sean Brennan, 10, of Emmetsburg looked to be in pretty rough shape Friday after getting his face painted to look like he’d just gotten injured.

He had a story ready for his friends.

“I wiped out on a gravel road,” he said.

The best part of the horrible injury face painting was yet to come; his mother hadn’t seen it yet and her reaction would be a wildcard.

“I have no idea what she’ll do,” he said.

The fair continues today; beef and horse shows kick off in the morning.