Mud, inside and outside

Young athletes compete in Barnyard Olympics at Webster County Fair

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Lily Allison, 11, right, of the Dodger Builders 4-H club, races against Bella Pudenz, 12, left, to see who can find a pin clip in a muddy kiddie pool at the Webster County Fair Friday afternoon. The two were competing in the Barnyard Olympics.

It may have been raining at the Webster County Fairgrounds Friday afternoon, but inside the indoor arena, spectators stayed warm and dry while watching the Barnyard Olympics.

The same couldn’t be said for those actually competing in the event.

About 13 teams competed in two different divisions — one comprising teenagers and one comprising younger children — to see who would become the Barnyard Olympics champions.

The course included sliding through soapy water underneath two 2-by-4s without knocking them over, finding a hitch pin in a bucket of mud, riding a stick — described as a “horse” — in a figure eight, finding a pin clip in a kiddie pool filled with muddy water, tossing a bucket and having it land upright before finally simply opening a gate and closing it.

The first obstacle seemed to give competitors the most trouble.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Barnyard Olympics competitor Rachel Jones, 9, tries to flip a bucket and get it to land upright during the competition Friday at the Webster County Fair.

Gracie Harvey, 13, a member of the Douglas Dreamers 4-H club, had mixed feelings about that obstacle.

“I think going underneath the mud was the hardest part,” she said. “But it was also the funnest part.”

Anna Hermanson, 16, of the Sonrays 4-H club, had many challenges going through the course. Chief among them, she needs glasses to see but didn’t wear them while competing in Barnyard Olympics.

What was the most difficult part for her?

“The part where soap got in my eye,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Josie Matton, right, 13, a member of the Gowrie Groundbreakers 4-H club, pets her horse, Colby, during the Webster County Fair Friday. Matton’s younger sister, Jillian Matton, 7, is behind her.

After the competition, she “borrowed” her teammate’s shirt to rub the soap out of her eyes, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

And despite all of those challenges, Hermanson said she’d do it again.

“We always do it,” she said. “It’s a tradition.”

Aianna Kirby, 9, a member of the CC Sidekicks 4-H club, was a first-time Barnyard Olympian.

The most challenging part for her was digging through the kiddie pool to find the pin clip.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Jacob Nieland, 9, puts his hands on his head in frustration after he lost the ball during a game of Gaga Ball at the Webster County Fair Friday.

“It was hard, because you had to tip the baby pool to find it,” she said. “And I fell over it and had to find it again.”

Kirby also had trouble with the final obstacle, which some may consider the easiest. All she had to do was unlock a gate, walk through it, close the gate and lock it again.

How did it give her trouble?

“I opened the gate wrong,” she said.

Not to mention that, by the time the race was done, she was covered in mud.

“My socks are junk now,” Kirby told her teammate, Jared Geis, 12, a Washington Winners 4-H’er. “My shoes are junk now. My shirt is junk now.”

Would she do it again?

“Probably,” she said.

The winners of the older division of the Barnyard Olympics were a team known as the Hillbillies.

Emily Jaeschke, 15, a member of the Elkhorn Eagles 4-H club, said the soapy water was the most difficult part.

“Your eyes,” she said. “You can’t see anything.”

When asked what advice they would give to anyone else competing in Barnyard Olympics, the four Hillbillies team members answered in unison:

“Just send it.”

The Webster County Fair continues today.