At the Webster County Fair, a bit of everything, and a camel

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Bob “Farmer Bob” Hill, of Dysart, makes a balloon animal for Luke Muench, 10, of rural Boone County, at the Webster County Fair Saturday afternoon. Hill roams the fairgrounds entertaining with his old tractor, jokes, an infectious smile and hand-crafted balloon creations.

This year’s Webster County Fair Queen Haley Ledford spent part of Saturday afternoon strolling the grounds of the fair meeting and greeting visitors.

One of them, Gracie Kallansrud, 6, of Fort Dodge, understated her excitement at meeting a queen.

“It was good,” she said.

Her dad, Mike Kallansrud, set the record straight.

“Her jaw dropped when she walked out and saw her,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture is all smiles after decorating a friendship rock Saturday afternoon during his visit to the Webster County Fair. 2018 Queen Haley Ledford, at left, along with King Justin Koester, decorate rocks too.

Meeting and greeting for Ledford and her king, Justin Koester, also included spending some time with Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who visited the fair.

“I showed him my bottle calf,” Ledford said. “He wasn’t asleep for once.”

She was impressed with the time she spent with Naig.

“I think he really cares about Iowa and the future of agriculture here,” she said.

Naig, who grew up as a 4-H and FFA member in Palo Alto County, enjoyed his visit to Webster County and plans on attending as many other county fairs as he can.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Gracie Kallansrud, 6, of Fort Dodge, gets her picture taken with 2018 Webster County Fair Queen Haley Ledford by 2017 Fair Queen Brooklin Border Saturday afternoon at the Webster County Fair.

“Visiting the state is the best part of my job,” he said. “I’m going to make it to as many as I can. I love to see the exhibits.”

Ledford was right about Naig’s view of the future of agriculture in Iowa. He said he was impressed with the youths at the fairs he’s visited. He’s also discussed water quality issues and the current concerns about the ag economy due to the ongoing tariff situation with the Trump administration.

Naig also got to leave a positive message for someone to find. He decorated a friendship rock.

His message?

“Smile,” he said. “And a smiley face.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Harley Eckert, 12, of Lehigh, right, gets a little help from her friend Bella Pudenz, 12, of Callender with the braids on her horse’s mane before going into the arena Saturday afternoon for the horse show. Eckert is participating in eight events with her horse, Chevall.

Being fair queen and king also nets you a court, of sorts.

One member of that court was 2017 Fair Queen Brooklin Border, who was walking the fairgrounds with Ledford and Koester.

Her role on Saturday?

“I’m just taking pictures,” she said. “I”m her paparazzi.”

Border said that Ledford was a natural for the 2018 reign.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Luke Muench, 10, of rural Boone County positions the “cue ball” after his opponent scratched into the corner pocket during a game of Human Pool Kickball Style at the Webster County Fair.

“She can do anything,” she said.

Harley Eckert, 12, of Lehigh, a member of the Dayton Tigers 4-H Club, was getting some help from her friend, Bella Pudenz, 12, of Callender, with braiding her horse’s mane.

Her horse, Chevall, seemed to be enjoying the experience. She fell asleep.

Eckert was signed up to ride in eight events during Saturday’s horse show. She’s spent plenty of time preparing.

“I ride a lot and practice a lot,” she said. “Every Thursday we have our meeting.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
For visitors to the Webster County Fair, the Hovick Family Farm petting zoo offers them a chance to meet a camel.

Bob “Farmer Bob” Hill, of Dysart, has been on the entertainment bill at the Webster County Fair for many years. As his character Farmer Bob might suggest, he’s no stranger to a row of corn.

“I am a farmer,” he said proudly.

Hill works from a John Deere tractor covered with a variety of, well, objects. They include a Cookie Monster stuffed animal that serves as the inflation nozzle for when he makes balloon animals, which requires a lot of balloons.

“I’ve gone through several thousand already,’ he said. “I gotta order more.”

So far at this year’s fair, nobody has asked him to make anything odd.

“Just all the normal stuff.”

If he was looking for inspiration for something odd to recreate as a balloon animal, the Hovick Family Farm petting zoo could probably help him out — they have a camel.

Luke Muench, 10, of rural Boone County, was among those who stopped to pet the camel.

His impression?

“He was softer than I expected.”