Calhoun Co. Expo brings life lessons

ROCKWELL CITY – Life lessons abounded during the Calhoun County Expo Saturday at the fairgrounds in Rockwell City.

Whether demonstrated in the various projects on exhibit or displayed in the show ring, the skills the youths involved in the FFA and 4-H clubs in the region learned for the county fair are expected to benefit them well beyond their being in the running for the State Fair.

“It’s opening up whole new avenues for them,” said Linda Coon, of Lohrville. “The clubs are offering workshops and doing things now like welding. We never had anything like that when my daughter was a member. And it’s great to see that the girls are jumping right into something like that and making some really neat stuff.”

Welding, sewing, cooking, canning, photography, woodworking and the variety of other crafts and tasks shown in the exhibits staged in the 4-H building provide practical trade skills and organization while the animals in the barns tend to teach more internal values, such as compassion and a sense of duty.

“Livestock does a great job of teaching you responsibility,” said Brian Lantz, one of the agriculture teachers for South Central Calhoun School District. “These kids are ahead of the curve when it comes to work ethic and recognizing when things go right or when they go wrong.”

His son, Micah Lantz, 15, of Lytton, said though he enjoys showing pigs more than cattle, the heifers and steers can be challenging.

“It can be hard, but it’s rewarding,” he said. “In the end, you get to see how they turn out.”

Brian Lantz agreed, adding that since Micah Lantz raises his own animals, he gets to be involved in the each step of the process of breeding and raising livestock for market.

“He makes all his own decisions and he is able to see the results of his choices,” Brian Lantz said.

Hopefully, his choices result in a healthy, hearty steer or heifer. However, due to their mass and power, beef cattle can get pushy, Brian Lantz said, which means those handling them need to stay alert.

“In terms of animal safety, you need to know their personality and disposition,” he said. “With these animals, you get to know them as you care for them. Everyone of them has a personality and you take that into consideration.”

Whether an exhibitor or a bystander, people should always maintain animal awareness, Brian Lantz said. The animals get stressed, they get tired and they get scared. When that happens, they can become hard to handle and may bolt.

In fact, a girl reportedly received medical treatment after being struck by a steer Saturday. Kelly Meyer, president of the Calhoun County Expo board of directors did not have further details about the incident, but said that they stress personal safety when dealing with livestock. No one wants the fair experience ruined with an injury.

“The whole reason we do it is to see the kids’ faces when they’re having fun and the looks on their faces when they win those ribbons,” he said.