Another one for the History Book
Saturday, Aug. 4 brought the closing of the 162nd Preble County Fair, with many memories for 4-H’ers across the county — new records, and bittersweet endings for some.
This year the 4-H program had 721 members, aged 8–18, in 69 different clubs. Some 156 adult volunteers took the time to teach and prepare youth across the county for judging.
The fair kicked off officially on July 28, but for some, the fair season started back at the end of June. The Preble County Junior Fair Board, its adult volunteers, the Senior Fair Board, fairground workers, and OSU Extension staff, put in many hours prior to the fair, creating livestock shows, writing stall cards, setting up barns, and getting their ducks in a row to make the fair as flawless as possible.
The fair started off just like past fairs, with the moving-in of projects youth from all over the county had worked hard on for the past year.
This was followed by a day of weighing-in market livestock, and the annual parade through the streets of Eaton.
This year the fair saw a large number of animal projects brought by 4-H’ers: beef, 49; goats, 83; dairy, 11; horses, 118; poultry, 669; rabbits, 538; sheep, 53; and swine, 131.
4-H’ers were able to witness history being made this year. A Market Turkey show made its first appearance in the poultry department. Ten exhibitors and 18 turkeys made it in the history books, with weights ranging from 9 to 41 pounds.
Breanna (Bre) Via, 10 years old, a member of the Poultry Pride and Livestock 4-H club, put another item on her 4-H resume, after being having the first-ever Grand Champion Market Turkey at the Preble County Fair.
“I won a banner!” was the first thing Via said, with a huge smile on her face, after being named champion.
Not only did Bre make history, her sister Adrianna (Ady), 14, also put her name down in the books after winning Reserve Champion Market Turkey.
The market turkey class had been many years in the making. A few years back the Poultry Committee tried to get such a class in place and was unsuccessful. Despite that, this year luck came their way and they were able to push the class though.
“It was a great learning experience for everybody involved,” said Amanda Heitzman, Junior Fair Board Poultry Committee adult advisor.
“I wanted to see the market turkey class added, because it was more of a ‘why not ?’ situation. I have a special fondness for the turkeys and thought it would be another outlet for the kids in the market class,” said Bev Nisewonder, who was a major push behind getting a market turkey class put in place. Nisewonder could not have been any happier when she was told this was going to happen.
“I learned that other counties had them in their market class, and that it was a huge thing at the state fair. And when I say huge, I mean huge. We were told by more than one entrant that if it wasn’t a 50-pounder to stay at home. I was close with a regular entry last year and wanted to go after it again.
“So that is where it started. The kids all did good this year at the sale, for a first-year showing. Plus, if you were around when all the kids had to take them down the midway for weigh-ins, it was a hilarious show. Everybody stopped and watched. We all learned quickly that it is really difficult to lead a turkey anywhere, not to mention the bathing end of that.
“All in all, I’m glad that the Jr. and Sr. Fair Board agreed to the suggestion. Needless to say, I have been dubbed the ‘Turkey Lady’ and I like it,” Nisewonder said.
The most anticipated contest of the fair every year is the Showman of Showman contest. This contest features the best of the best from eight different species on the fairgrounds, rabbits, horses, chickens, sheep, goats, dairy cattle, beef cattle, and swine.
The contest also had first ever – a showman with a vision impairment.
The Showman of Showman Committee, along with Christy Millhouse, OSU Extension Educator, had the challenge of creating a safe environment, and a way for all participants to participate in the contest without amending any rules.
The contest this year showed Preble County’s true colors of hospitality and outstanding support for the 4-H program. Preble Countians all over the fairgrounds provided the committee with resources and animals to help “make the show go on.”
Cody Shafer was the winner of both Beef and Swine, and elected to represent the Beef department.
“Being recognized as the showman of showmen in one species is an honor, but when an exhibitor excels in two species, it is certainly reflective of the skills that individual has developed. Cody can be very proud of this accomplishment and how it reflects on his hard work and dedication.” said Millhouse.
Also, Matthew Duffy was named the showman of Dairy and he chose to pass his spot in the contest onto the reserve showman, Morgan McCollum.
“We know that through 4-H our members are not just learning skills in a particular project area, but they are also learning life skills. When Matt stepped aside to allow Morgan to participate in the Grand Showman of Showmen, he reflected one of the traits we hope our 4-H’ers learn. He showed the ability to put someone else before himself and exhibited the kind of sportsmanship he and the adults who support him can be proud of,” Millhouse commented.
The definition of a showman is a person skilled at presenting anything in an effective manner, which is exactly what can be said about the winner of this contest, sheep showman Kyle Burton.
Burton, who is an 11-year member of the All-Star Livestock 4-H club, ended his 4-H club time with the highest honor in the Preble County 4-H program. Throughout Burton’s career he has shown chickens, hogs, sheep, and goats, which helped him succeed in the contest.
The goal for all the participants is to have the lowest score possible, which determines the winner. Burton won the competition with a score of 11, one of the lowest scores to win the contest in quite some time. The scores this year ranged from Burton’s 11, to 36.
Also participating in the contest was Beef Showman Cody Shafer, Swine Showman Aubrey Stevenson, Goat Showman Stephen Garrett, Rabbit Showman Aleeha Dudley, Chicken Showman Ady Via, Horse Showman Tristen Withrow, and Dairy Showman Morgan McColllum.
Preble County had to say good bye to 28 4-H members who had reached their final year showing at in the Junior Fair. Among, those 28 is 11-member Rachel Fritz, who was a member of the Poultry Pride and Livestock 4-H Club.
Fritz over the years added many notches on her 4-H resume. She was a Junior Fair Board member for four years, a camp counselor for five years, a two-time winner of the Rabbit Premier Exhibitor Award, three– time winner of the rabbit skillathon in the Senior Division, and a volunteer at the 4-H committee Ice Cream stand at the Pork Festival for several years.
“I joined 4-H because all of my other siblings were in 4-H,” said Fritz.
Fritz’s two sisters were both 11-year members, and her brother was a 10-year member, who was not able to complete his last year due to joining the Air Force.
“When I was old enough to be a Junior Fair Board member, I went for it. My oldest sister Ashley and my brother Aaron were also both four year members of the JFB and I wanted to do the same.
“I also really wanted to be involved. The younger members in the county really look up to us older members, and especially the ones on JFB. I wanted to be one of those people and make an impact on another 4-H’er who was younger than me.”
During Fritz’s 4-H career, she showed rabbits and chickens for 11 years.
“All of my siblings showed rabbits. Aaron was the first to start showing chickens – and taught us a different kind of responsibility verses the rabbits. Aaron and I were able to teach each other things about chickens that helped us grow into better showmen.”
4-H in the Fritz family is not about the winning.
“Winning is a perk but it is not what 4-H is about. Sure it is great to win, but 4-H has taught the family about leadership, working with others who come from different backgrounds, and being better communicators,” said Fritz
4-H camp is the summer highlight most Preble County 4-H’ers look forward to in June, and with Fritz and her family, it was no different.
“Aaron started the family going to 4-H camp and after he came back from his first year, he kept talking about how much fun it was. The next year Ashley became a counselor and did so for the next three years. I was the only one of us kids who went to 4-H camp every year during my 11 years.
“Being a camp counselor is going to be the hardest thing not to be able to do anymore. Camp taught me patience in handling younger kids and how to take a leadership role.”
Not only was Fritz highly involved in 4-H during high school, she was also an avid soccer player. She was a four– year starter on Tri-County North varsity girls’ team – and was involved in select soccer, playing for an independent team out of Milton Union, known as the Lady Bulldogs.
With this much involvement between 4-H and soccer, Fritz learned how to time manage time.
“Time management is one of the biggest things I have been able to take with me to college. It did get pretty hard playing soccer year round and keeping up with all of my 4-H responsibilities, but I would not go back and change anything at all. It was one the best things ever to prepare me for my future.”
Fritz is a sophomore at Wright State University, where she is majoring in Athletic Training. Her future goals are not 100 percent set in stone, but she would love to work with a high school team somewhere the county. She is currently planning on attending graduate school after Wright State. Fritz also plans to continue as an adult volunteer with the 4-H program.