FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — The gates to the Minnesota State Fair open every morning at 6 a.m., but competition for the agricultural kids is already well underway.

It takes a lot of prep work to get into the ring. The work really never stops, it actually goes all night long. Inside the cattle barns at the State Fairgrounds, teenagers from 4-H are on the clock all night long. While you don’t see crowds walking through the barn, you will spot workers.

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Some can catch a nap in their folding chairs, but many stay up and make sure the cows are fed or clean up stalls. Bernice Vander Wal is a herds woman, she says she doesn’t mind staying up all night.

“You walk up those stairs right there and the dorms are there. It’s hot anyway, you don’t want to sleep up there and there’s a bunch of other girls up there and it stinks and is dusty. So it’s not the best sleeping quarters either,” she said.

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Bernice started showing in third grade. She and the others make sure the dairy cows are comfortable and tied up safely. They also have to make sure the show cows are milked, so if they’re ready in the middle of the night, the teens get to milking.

She said she might grab a nap around 2 a.m., but Then it’s back up at 6:30 a.m. to make sure the animals get breakfast.

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The FFA is showing animals this coming weekend. Both the 4-H group and FFA have plenty of work once the State is over. The teens have to get back to the farm and start work again.

Jason DeRusha