Camping at the fair

Some 4-H’ers and their families take up residence for the duration of week

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Carson Collins, of Barnum, stops to chat with his friend Jayden Condon, 15, as she goes through some of the prizes she got at the Wednesday morning Sheep Show at the Webster County Fair. The Condon family, like many other 4-H families, camp on the grounds for the duration of the fair.

For many 4-H members and their families it may seem that during the week of the Webster County Fair they’re spending all their time at the fairgrounds.

Some families end up doing just that.

For a week, they live there, in campers or even a tent, only yards away from their animals.

Shanna Egli, of Barnum, is among those who make the fair home.

“For the whole week,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Shanna Egli, of Barnum, spends some time with her daughter, Kyla Egli, 10, at left, and her nephew, Mylo Poutre, 4, of Manson, in the shade of the camper Thursday morning at the Webster County Fair. The family spends the week camped at the fair.

She has two 4-H’ers: Ethan Egli, 12, and Kyla Egli, 10.

Having a camper set up on the fairgrounds offers the family several things besides being close to the horse barn, she said. It gives the children a place to cool off, get something to eat and drink, and change into and out of their show clothes.

They have all the comforts of home.

“We camp enough that we’re pretty well set up,” she said. “The kids think it’s fun.”

While almost all the comforts of home are found in the camper, there is one thing Shanna Egli does miss.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Ethan Egli, 12, of Barnum, and his dad, Justin Egli, work on getting their horse stall ready Thursday afternoon at the Webster County Fair. The Egli family spends the duration of the fair camped on the grounds.

“Maybe a washer and dryer,” she said.

Jaedyn Condon, 15, of Fort Dodge, had a busy Thursday morning at the fair showing sheep. When the show was over, she returned to the family camper with a bucket full of sheep supplies that she won.

She enjoys having the fairgrounds as her address for a week.

“Just being able to check on my animals,” she said. “I like exploring all the great things going on. Even if you’re not in something, you can still go to cheer your fellow 4-H’ers on.”

She does miss a few comforts of home.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Alyson Nieland, 13, of Fort Dodge, spends a little quality time with her steer Shadow as he was being groomed for showing Thursday afternoon at the Webster County Fair. Nieland is among the many who spend the week camping at the fair with her family.

“Probably the showers,” she said, then adding, “The bed at home.”

The full selection of television is not on her missed things list.

“No,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff to do here.”

Her mom, Sara Scharf, of Fort Dodge, enjoys the camping experience too.

“We look forward to this,” she said.

Part of what makes their stay comfortable is making sure that they did indeed bring everything they need for a week.

“Extra shirts, boots and belts,” she said.

A well-stocked fridge and something to cook on is also key.

“We grill,” she said.

Scharf enjoys the social life at the end of the day when the families on the grounds gather around their campers.

“I like hanging out and getting to know people,” she said. “There’s actually a lot to do here at night.”

Alyson Nieland, 13, of Fort Dodge, was spending the morning working with her uncle, Matt Anderson, of Vincent, to groom her steer, Shadow, and get him ready to show.

She, too, stays the week at the fair.

“I like being able to hang out with my friends and not having to leave,” she said.

At first, she said she didn’t miss anything from home, but then she reconsidered.

“Maybe my bed,” she said.

Anderson said that the family had remembered almost everything they needed and had only had to make a few trips back home for a few things here and there.

Getting it home — now that’s another story.

“It takes about three trailer loads to get everything home,” Anderson said.

For some families, in spite of staying at the fairgrounds, there’s still a daily trip or two home to take care of the animals still on the farm.

They get a pass on that.

“We brought all the livestock with us,” Anderson said.

He does appreciate being at the fairgrounds.

“When I was a kid we didn’t camp,” he said. “There was lots of driving. It’s a lot easier to stay.”