A royal start

Webster County kicks off fair season

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The 2019 Webster County Fair King and Queen, Blake Peterson and Samantha Alphs, center, smile proudly after their coronation as runner-up Morgan Border, right, helps Little Miss winner Gracie Kallansrud, 7, with her flowers. King runner-up Alex Pudenz, at left, and Little Mister winner Corban McHome, 9, stand proud at left.

Abby Chalstrom, 18, of Moorland, a member of the Son Rays 4-H Club, was sitting at a table among dozens of caged chickens, geese, turkeys and other feathered fowl in the poultry barn at the Webster County Fair Wednesday.

On the table in front of her, an open bottle of bright pink nail polish that she was applying carefully.

She usually doesn’t apply nail polish among crowing roosters.

“I usually do this in my bedroom,” she said. “I didn’t have time this morning. I’m multi-tasking.”

Chalstrom actually had a perfectly serious reason for the manicure: she was among the candidates for fair queen.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Abby Chalstrom, 18, of Moorland, a member of the Son Rays 4-H Club, works on painting her nails during a break in the rabbit barn Wednesday at the Webster County Fair.

That, too, required some preparation.

“I had to find a dress,” she said. “I borrowed one from a friend, it was a perfect fit.”

She’s avoiding uncomfortable high heels to go with it, opting instead for a pair of flats.

“My feet are going to be really comfy,” she said.

Going to the fair means bringing a lot of stuff. Some participants camp out on the fairgrounds, others go home each night. Either way, there’s always stuff to bring.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Nick Eslick, of Dayton, helps install a fan to help keep the family’s pigs cool Wednesday afternoon during setup at the Webster County Fair.

Josie Matton, 14, of Harcourt, a member of the Gowrie Groundbreakers 4-H Club, had a woodworking project; a horse; her dog, Pepper; and all their supplies to bring along.

“I had to make sure we had all the tack,” she said.

Did anything get left at home?

She looked sadly at Pepper who looked back at her with sad brown eyes.

“We forgot her carpet,” Matton said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Bryan Eslick, at left, of Lehigh and Brad Eslick, of Dayton, put the Dayton Tigers 4-H Club sign up in the swine barn at the Webster County Fair Wednesday.

Anna Lewandowski, 18, of Fort Dodge, a member of the Son Rays 4-H Club, was a little sad, too. It’s her last year at the fair as a 4-H member.

“I’m going to enjoy my last year,” she said.

Wednesday she was enjoying the dog show with Buddy and Rumpy who were in turn enjoying sitting on her lap or sitting in a chair.

There was no last minute project completion for her.

“We used to do that,” she said. “I was done a week before the fair.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Josie Matton, 14, of Harcourt, a member of the Gowrie Groundbreakers 4-H Club, plays with her standard poodle Pepper after the morning’s session of the dog show at the Webster County Fair.

Her mom, Jan Lewandowski, was taking her daughter’s last year as a 4-H participant a little harder.

“I might cry more on the last day of the fair than I did for graduation,” she said.

She’s been a familiar fair mom at the fair for many years.

“I was helping to chase the cow that got loose and somebody said isn’t that Anna’s mom,” she said.

Yes, a cow did make a dash for freedom Wednesday.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Samantha Smith, of Fort Dodge, rabbit project leader for Webster County, sorts out the rabbit trophies Wednesday as she works to set up at the Webster County Fair.

The unidentified bovine belongs to Lauren Eslick, 12, of Dayton, a member of the Dayton Tiger 4-H Club.

“She got the halter and the backup rope off,” Eslick said.

The escape attempt only lasted about 10 minutes.

“Then she just got tired,” she said.

Samantha Smith, of Fort Dodge, is the Webster County project leader for the rabbit project. She was a member of the CC Sidekicks 4-H Club.

“I raised rabbits for eight years,” she said.

Wednesday found her busy with all the details required to host the rabbits, their owners and hold a show.

“There’s a lot of paperwork… a lot of paperwork,” she said. “I had four days of cage assignments, they’re by breed now, all of one breed are in a section. We’ll see how it goes.”

Her favorite part of the fair, the one she’s also looking forward to the most?

“Seeing the faces of the kids,” she said. “They go buy a $5 rabbit and show it. Their faces light up when they get a trophy or a ribbon. That’s how you keep kids in 4-H.”

The Webster County Fair continues today with a variety of shows and events from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. when Jessica McClintock performs on the Free Stage.

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