The Dodge County Fair hosts many dairy and youth livestock programs and competitions that are unique and among the best in the state. One such activity is the youth dairy and livestock fitting competition.
“For dairy, there’s two age groups: junior and senior. The head of the animal is clipped before hand, and the kids have one hour to clip the rest of the animal and blow up a topline for show,” commented Bonnie Borden. “During the fitting process, the judge watches their work. After one hour, the animals are circled around the ring, and the judge places them.”
Elizabeth Gunst, Hartford, Herman Hornets 4-H, and Ben Buske, Mayville, Lomira Clover Leaves 4-H Club, won the junior and senior division, respectively, for dairy. “This competition gives me the chance to show the skills I’ve learned over the years and get someone else’s opinion,” commented Buske. “It’s a good experience.”
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Emily Schulz, Iron Ridge, Herman Hornets 4-H Club, won the beef-fitting competition. “With the beef species, you want to make the animal look bigger boned, level down the top, and bigger in the belly,” commented Schulz, who’s won the competition several times. “We don’t clip as part of our competition, we just fit them for show, but between clipping and fitting, we’re shaping the animal to look square.”
Schulz, who’s in her last year of youth participation at the fair, is the youngest of three sisters who have all grown up showing beef at the Dodge County Fair. Her sister, Allison, is a graduate of Kansas State in animal science and works for the American Royal. Abby is in the University of Wisconsin system, majoring in agribusiness, and Emily, herself, attends Blackhawk College East Campus in Illinois studying agriculture, as well.
Emily Schwanke, Waupun, Achiever’s 4-H and Waupun FFA, won the sheep-fitting competition which is done on market lambs and includes sheering, fluffing, and trimming — kind of like the beef species. “The kids fit the sheep so the loin and leg stand out and the judge can see the more valued meat cuts,” commented Borden.
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The public is encouraged to walk around the animal barns and ask exhibitors questions about their animals. There are a variety of displays providing educational information about the different species, as well.
The Dodge County Fair will continue through Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017. Visit www.dodgecountyfairgrounds.com for more information.
Written by Dori Lichty, farm wife, 4-H Mom, and full-time communicator