Reporting Rachel Slavik
CANNON FALLS, Minn. (WCCO) – The summer fair season has arrived and in the next few weeks, children from around state will bring their livestock to 4-H competitions.
Last year, there was concern that the dry weather would have an impact on the size and turnout of livestock during this year’s fair season.
But, in the cattle barn at the Cannon Falls Fair, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“It’s a good practice for us,” said Kelsey Glaess, a former 4-H member.
Glaess’s family knows how to show prize winning cattle. Her sister took top honors for two of her yearlings.
A year’s worth of hard work is on display while giving no hint of the effort it took to get there.
“They teach you a lot of life lessons, like responsibility, work ethic, and hard work,” Glaess said.
Yet, in a competition where the biggest and best animal often wins, weather has not made it easy. Last year’s drought, combined with this year’s rainy spring, has destroyed crops.
“Which means it’s costing us more money to feed animals, to get them to grow and be ready for the fair,” Glaess said.
Most 4-H members have not cut back on feed. Instead, they’re choosing to budget and cut back in other areas. However, some hobby farm breeders are finding ways to save by bringing fewer animals to the fair.
“Numbers are down here quite a bit,” said Angela Eipers, of Kevin Eipers Family Farm. “I bet there’s about half what was here last year.”
Eipers’ family chose to bring a smaller herd. Her pen has six fewer lambs than years’ past. She believes the decision saved her family hundreds of dollars.
“We just have small hobby farm,” Eipers said. “We buy everything we feed. If prices keep going up, we might not be able to keep doing it.”
But for 4-H participants, the cost for an award-winning animal is a sacrifice they’re willing to take, if it means a chance at the state’s biggest stage.
“People who are involved in this are committed, so, they find ways to make it work,” Glaess said.
Kids have to win on the county fair level to show their animals at the State Fair.