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Dane County

Dane County Fair returns with 4-H traditions

Bella Kelly, age 11, of Oak Park 4-H in Deerfield, showed Monica, a milking shorthorn, who has been prepping for the fair since last summer

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After missing the Dane County Fair last year, Trudi was determined to have a fun time at this year’s event. She even got her hair done to look her best.

When the spring calf entered the show ring, Trudi could tell the judges were impressed, giving her a third-place ribbon.

It was DeForest Handy Helpers 4-H members Lily Herschleb’s first time showing at the fair, and she was pretty happy that Trudi garnered a ribbon.

“But it was pretty nerve-wracking, and I didn’t want to lose,” she said.

Lily’s mother Laura watched her daughter, eager for their kids to take part in the experience.

“It’s a family tradition,” Laura said. “I grew up showing and now my kids have the opportunity to show. It’s just something that is in your blood, you can’t really shake it.”

Thousands came to the Dane County Fair July 15-18 eager to get back after last year’s in-person fair was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Cotton candy, funnel cake, carnival rides bring many, but for most it’s all about the animals and the focus on Wisconsin’s agriculture and farming heritage.

Dane County Fair

At the Oak Park 4-H stalls at the fair, Delight, Debutant and Diva were getting ready for their close-ups in the show ring.

Bella Kelly, age 11, showed Monica, a milking shorthorn, who has been prepping for the fair since last summer.

“We took all our animals to my grandmother’s house last year after the fair was canceled and had a mini-fair,” Kelly says.

14-year-old Tyler Leuch is a veteran of the Dane County Fair with six years of showing under his belt with the Waunakee Whirlwinds 4-H club. He also kept his skills sharp by showing his calf at a homemade “fair” by a family friend.

Dane County Fair

Right: Kaleb Regoli, of Glacial Drumlin 4-H in Deerfield, competes in the Communication Arts Festival at the Dane County Fair. Left: Kat Teopfer of Oak Park 4-H in Deerfield shows poultry.

At Thursday’s showmanship competition, Leuch won 1st place with his calf, which celebrated with a lie-down, a snack, and a cool fan breeze.

“I think she’s happy to be here. It’s like a vacation for her,” said Leuch, a Waunakee Whirlwinds 4-H member.

Eliza Endres has shown animals at the Dane County Fair for 10 years. She credits the experiences spurring her interest in farming.

“It’s a lot of teamwork,” Endres said. “It’s not just the one week at the fair thing. It’s started right when I moved home from college--twice a day at the farm, feeding them, washing them and getting them ready for the show them off for this long weekend.”

Endres, will enter her sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying ag business with an emphasis in finance and international business.

“My main goal is to really just help farmers,” Endres said.

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