4-H prep work

SARAH POLACEK of Norfolk (right) and Aly Vondrak of Winside, both of whom work with the 4-H program for the Nebraska Extension Office in Madison County, hang stall assignments and safety information on Monday afternoon near the livestock stalls in preparation for Tuesday’s opening of the Madison County Fair.

MADISON — The goal for 4-H is to “make the best better.”

The participants at the Madison County Fair this week will be striving to live up to this standard.

This year, 4-H’ers of a variety of ages — and their work — will be viewed and judged in various categories of creations and livestock. These project categories include photography, culinary, horticulture, textiles and science, among others.

According to Lee Sherry, the University of Nebraska Extension educator for 4-H in Madison County, new projects were added for this year like 3D printing, technologically advanced clothing and an expansion to knitting and crocheting.

“There are a lot of different projects,” she said.

Since there are many options for participation in 4-H, most members are able to pursue a variety of interests.

Britney Kreikemeier is an experienced member and is showing both beef and hogs at this year’s Madison County Fair here, which opened Tuesday and runs through Sunday. She also will be presenting many static creations, including a dress that she sewed, photography and a scrapbook that she put together for her brother, Nick.

Kreikemeier said her favorite part of the fair is presenting for the hog show.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s not easy, but it’s a fun challenge.”

Her brother, who is also involved with 4-H, has less experience but just as much diversity in his creations. He made a duffel bag, Lego world, gumball machine and hula hoop and is also showing hogs and pigs. According to Kreikemeier, he has been working on the projects throughout the year.

On a recent evening at the fairgounds, 4-H’ers gathered to help with cleanup work in advance of the year, including Madison County residents Dylan Luechenhaus and Franklin Polacek.

Luechenhaus will show bucket calves, as well as his woodworking, photo projects and a Lego house that he built.

He said his favorite part is showing the bucket calves. “My grandma used to like to watch me present,” he said.

Like Luechenhaus, Polacek’s favorite part of the fair is presenting bucket calves.

“He (his calf) is not stubborn, and he’s easy to work with,” he said.

He also will be showing his Lego fortress that he took five days to build. This includes giving a short oral presentation to the judges about the project, which makes Polacek a bit nervous.

“I only get a little nervous,” he said. “Mostly when I’m talking.”

For the older members of 4-H, nerves are a thing of the past.

Stacey Frisch will be showing multiple static projects, as well as livestock, including hogs, sheep, cattle and fainting pygmy goats.

“I’ve pretty much done everything,” she said with a laugh.

Since she has been part of the club for so many years, nerves don’t really bother her.

“Now that I’m a senior and have been doing it for so long, I don’t really get nervous,” Frisch said.

With years of experience also come friendships, according to Lacey Johnson, another experienced 4-H member.

“I know everyone in 4-H,” Johnson said. “We are all pretty close.”

This year, she is showing horses and pigs. She borrows the pigs for the fair and she bought and raised the horse on her own.

Johnson said her favorite part of the fair is spending time with her fellow 4-H participants.

“I love getting to hang out with everyone,” she said.

Although all the projects and caring of livestock takes work and dedication, Becca Arkfeld considers it a nice break from everyday life.

“Even though it’s pretty close to home, it’s kind of my vacation,” she said.

Before the fair begins, the members of 4-H and their families spent time putting together all the exhibits and displays. Sherry looks forward to the finished set-up.

“I love changing up the building and seeing how it will look differently,” she said. “We always try to do different stuff.”

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