DES MOINES, Iowa -- When fair season is in full swing, it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of preparing for show day, waking up before the sun, teaching an animal to lead or even winning the championship trophy. However, one thing always remains – a feeling of belonging among families, mentors and youth livestock exhibitors.
“Spending time with friends and family is the best way to spend time at the fair,” said Jeryn Funke, a Delaware County 4-H beef exhibitor. “It’s what I look forward to the most during the Iowa State Fair.”
The Iowa State Fair offers more than just an opportunity for 4-H members to exhibit their projects; it offers exhibitors the chance to create and build lifelong friendships and connect with a community of people who believe in them. From the first moment stepping foot on the Iowa State Fairgrounds, there is a sense of community among livestock exhibitors and families. And when walking through the animal buildings, watching families and friends engage in a game of cards and enjoy a meal together, there is a sense of home. With parents teaching their children how to shear an animal, and fair friends sharing their showing techniques, it is easy to see that it is not about the competition but about learning from others and the relationships that are built during a 4-H member’s time at the fair.
Olivia Hanson, a 4-H member from Benton County, and Adelyn Sienknecht, a 4-H member from Tama County, met earlier this summer on an intermediate 4-H member trip and learned they bought goats from the same farm. Now, after seeing each other at the fair, they have become closer friends, spending their time relaxing with their animals and watching shows together. “We recognized each other right away,” said Hanson. “We have been able to develop a friendship through our similar personalities and showing goats.”
No matter what, one thing is for sure among Iowa State Fair livestock exhibitors: the relationships built are more valuable and memorable than any trophy.
For more information about how to get involved with livestock exhibits at the Iowa State Fair or joining 4-H, please contact an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach county office or visit the Iowa 4-H webpage at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h.