By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At the State Fair, they are as visible as the food vendors and the rides — 4-H kids from across the state can be seen in their green t-shirts and with whatever activity they specialize in.

The thing most people don’t realize is just how expansive 4-H is, and you don’t have to be a farm kid to get involved.

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Of all the competitions at the Great Minnesota Get-Together, the most bizarre and fascinating might involve llamas. They have to pass by a vacuum, an umbrella, and a nice lady with bells on her wrists without getting distracted.

“It is strange, because llamas are terrified of the strangest things,” Paige Sahr, of Lucky Aces 4-H club.

Their guides though it all are almost always 4-H’ers. Sahr is part of a group of Washington County 4-H’ers who works with llamas.

“We start training after the snow melts, then we do obstacle courses with them. Grooming takes about a week,” Sahr said.

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Dan Whittaker supplies the llamas to the 4-H clubs, raising them on his Washington County farm. Even if llamas never walked into his life, he still would be involved in 4-H.

“The 4-H thing, I got introduced to it years ago from a friend in Wisconsin and I just loved it,” Whittaker said. “The rewards for myself and the kids is just incredible.”

With their heads, hearts, hands, and health, 4-H members learn responsibility and life skills through a variety of activities. Llamas are just one of many.

“I live 15 minutes away from Minneapolis. I don’t have any land but I can still come out to the farm and show a livestock animal,” Elena Derosier, of Soil Savers 4-H club, said.

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The 4-H Building at the State Fair is on Cosgrove Street. Among the 4-H activities there are in addition to livestock: archery, fashion, sewing and many more. Of course, the goal here for any 4-H’er is to win a blue ribbon.

John Lauritsen