WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Though 4-H and FFA participants had opportunities to show their animals and other projects, nothing quite compares to participating in live shows at the Muscatine County Fair. July 21 through 25, approximately 300 4-H and FFA students competed in at least one event at the fair.
At a typical fair, numerous 4-H and FFA members show the animals they worked so hard to raise in the months, and sometimes years, leading up to the fair. This year proved no different, with each barn teeming with cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, sheep, and even some rabbits and pets cared for by the youngest 4-H’ers. As students returned to competition, or experienced it for the first time, they welcomed the opportunity to get in the ring and showcase the work they did with their animal.
Emily King, a junior who first joined 4-H as a fourth grader and later moved to FFA and has shown cattle for five years (first bucket calves and now older animals) brought four head of cattle with her, ranging in age from six months to two years. An experienced student, she enjoys getting to know each of her animals and preparing them to do well in the show ring. “I love the personalities they have and the challenge that comes with them too,” she shared. As she got them ready for the first typical cattle show since 2019, she thought they stood a decent chance of doing well. “I hope they do good,” she said modestly.
For fellow junior and FFA member Becca Potter, the fair offered a perfect opportunity to prepare for additional competition. Becca, who has shown sheep for the past four years, will compete with her five-month-old ram, Strider. Though no one else in Muscatine County will show rams this year, Becca welcomes the chance to get some feedback on Strider and to give him practice walking in the ring on a halter and having the judge inspect him before showing him at the state fair next month. “He’s also going to the state fair, so this is good practice for state,” she emphasized.
On the opposite side of the show ring, seventh grade FFA member Andrew Franke looked forward to showing his very first animal, Thaddeus, a five-month-old crossbreed market pig. After training his pig to walk nicely for the show ring and grooming him to perfection, Andrew felt excited to show him and cautiously optimistic that he would do well. “I’m hoping he does really well–he struggles at times, but I hope today will be his day.”
As FFA members and 4-H’ers get back into the knack of showing animals and participating in a wide range of other competitions from everything from woodworking, to sewing, the food and nutrition, to citizenship and leadership, organizers welcomed the chance to give them these positive experiences again. “We’re so excited to have everyone here together, said Muscatine County 4-H Coordinator Katrina Bostwick.
“It’s good for the kids to get that experience,” added Sam Paul, one of Muscatine FFA’s leaders.