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At fair, cats and carving

In Humboldt, fun is educational

July 29, 2011
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

HUMBOLDT - Rides, exhibits, tractors, livestock, comedians, racing, chainsaws, fireworks. And families and friends having fun. Sounds fair.

The Humboldt County Fair, that is.

The yearly Humboldt County Fair, held in Humboldt, began Tuesday and continues through Monday morning with an assortment of activities for the public offered every day.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Brandon L. Summers
Lauren Friesth, 16, of the Humboldt FFA, washes one of her steers at the Humboldt County Fair Thursday.

Fair Director Jeff Haselhuhn even promised a wild cats show Saturday, courtesy Pella Wildlife Company.

"That's going to have a lynx, a bobcat and a mountain lion," he said. "Humboldt is home to the Wildcats, Webster City's mascot is the lynx, and wild cats are native to this area of Iowa, so it's good to bring those animals back to the community to show people what used to be."

Haselhuhn said the county fair draws more than a thousand people to its stands nightly.

"It's a big community event," he said. "Very educational, very fun."

One highlight of the weeklong fair is chainsaw woodcarving artist Lynn Anderson. The Fort Dodge resident can be seen at the fair through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., carving wood pieces with skillful speed.

This is Anderson's 12th year at the fair. He said Thursday that he expects to do four pieces every day until Saturday's auction, when his carvings will be auctioned.

"I try to do something new every year," he said. "I'm going to do some flower kind of things this year, themes. Do some more stuff for ladies."

In less than an hour Thursday morning, Anderson took a chunk of wood and carved from it a bear in overalls holding a welcome sign.

"Every year it gets easier and easier as it goes," he said. "At first, it was a little more tougher, and now it's getting faster and faster."

Anderson has been chainsaw carving for 13 years, he said, and has a business called Wildwood Creations.

He never knows what he's going to carve next.

"It's in the wood there," he said. "Sometimes you've got to look in the wood and see what you can carve."

In addition to the county fair's many activities and events, there are also the 4-H exhibits and livestock events.

The youths of various 4-H clubs in and around Humboldt County have been working on their projects for a year in anticipation of this fair.

"This is kind of their grand finale of the year, to see how well they've done and what they've learned throughout the year," said Bryan Whaley, 4-H Youth Program specialist, Iowa State University Extension Office.

Their projects, completed and ready for exhibit, were brought to the county fair for judging. Many kids took home blue ribbons and some even received trophies. Static exhibit categories were as varied as food and nutrition, mechanics and sewing. There were also agriculture-related exhibits, such as projects on crop production.

And, of course, there was livestock.

Whaley said more than 125 kids had exhibits at the fair; he said the fair is mainly about education.

"We're a unique learning experience for the kids," he said. "We're based on the experiential learning model, which is do, reflect and apply."

The fair, though, is also about having fun, Whaley said.

"The kids have a lot of fun doing it," he said. "They get to build relationships with other kids they may not see throughout the year. They can come together and work together, but they also have a lot of fun."

As 4-H youth program specialist, this is Whaley's fourth fair. He said it brings back memories of when he was in 4-H and showing livestock.

"I enjoy being at the fairs and watching the kids succeed," he said. "Even if they don't win they're still learning something and having fun, and that's really the key and main importance of this program."

Contact Brandon L. Summers at (515) 573-2141 or



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