A missed opportunity

4-H and FFA members disappointed

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Breck Mills plays with one of her chickens on her family’s farm near Lanyon in southern Webster County on Tuesday.

GOWRIE — There was a cloud of disappointment that set in Monday evening when Webster County 4-H’ers heard the news the 4-H and FFA portions of the Webster County Fair were canceled.

4-H’ers and FFA members alike looked back at all of the hard work they have been putting in, preparing their animals for show and the long hours put into creating their static exhibits.

Gabby Stewart, 14, from Gowrie, had plans to take her seven goats to the Webster County Fair and was sad when she heard the news of the livestock shows’ cancellation.

“I have worked so hard for my animals,” she said. “I’ve had to walk them multiple times a day, I have washed them, shaved them down. We’ve done everything you have to do to get ready for a show.”

However, with the county holding open shows, Stewart is holding out hope all of that work wasn’t for nothing.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Shelby Mills walks one of her pigs she was planning to take to the Webster County 4-H hog show. Mills said she was anxiously awaiting the chance to potentially show her animals at open shows in the area.

“I am looking forward to an open show. I’m glad we get to show them in some way, but I would have preferred to show them in a 4-H show.”

Not only is Stewart disappointed she won’t get the opportunity to be in the show ring, but it is the interaction with the public she said she will miss the most.

“I enjoy talking to all of the little kids and people that ask me questions,” she said.

For Liberty, Spencer and Carson Suchan, of Gowrie, they continued with prepping their beef projects on Tuesday night, hoping for an opportunity to still show in Fort Dodge at an open show as well as any other potential open shows that may be in their future, including the Fair Special, a junior livestock show being held in place of the Iowa State Fair.

Regardless of any open show opportunities, the siblings were still very disappointed.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Leah Mills shares a moment with her baby doll lamb she named Eeyore. This was Mills’ first year in 4-H and she was looking forward to showing her animals at the Webster County 4-H show, but is already excited for next year.

“I was pretty unhappy because we did all of that work and turns out for nothing,” said Spencer Suchan. “But, we are going to keep looking for more shows to do.”

Spencer Suchan, 14, was planning on bringing his Charolais Composite heifer and a Shorthorn steer to the Webster County Fair.

Not only was Spencer Suchan looking forward to showing his beef projects, but was looking forward to seeing his fellow 4-H’ers.

“This year since the whole COVID thing, you couldn’t hang out with your friends, so I was looking forward to hanging out with them and showing my cattle,” he said.

Liberty Suchan, 11, is in her second year of 4-H and has been putting in a lot of hours, alongside her brothers, getting her bottle calf, Spud, and her Hereford steer ready for show.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Liberty Suchan brushes Spud, her bucket/bottle calf project. Suchan said she has been putting a lot of hours in prepping her beef projects for the 4-H show at the Webster County Fair and was sad to learn of the cancellation.

Liberty Suchan said she didn’t take receiving the news of the cancellation of the Webster County 4-H Fair too well.

“I was pretty upset because we have been working on them all year,” she said. “We had to get up early and take care of them and I was pretty sad.”

There were some disheartened 4-H’ers at the Mills farm in Lanyon as well.

Leah Mills, 10, was gearing up for her very first 4-H fair with her Baby Doll sheep, Eeyore, as well as her pig and duck project.

“I worked with them about every single day. I am sad,” she said. “But I want to stick it out and try again for next year.”

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Spencer Suchan leads one of his beef projects in the barn to be prepped for what he was hoping would be the 4-H beef show at the Webster County Fair. The Suchan family is hoping to attend some open shows and are also planning on attending the Fair Special that will be held in August at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.

Breck Mills, 14, had plans to take her pig, two sheep: a yearling and a lamb; and some chickens to the fair and was just about all ready to go for a Thursday arrival to the fairgrounds when they heard the news.

“We work very hard to have our show pigs, show sheep and chickens ready,” she said. “We bought all of our supplies. All of the hard work has gone down the drain.”

The Webster County Fair was also a chance at some normalcy for Breck Mills.

“Since school got cancelled, I was looking forward to hanging out with my friends and having just a normal fair since we couldn’t have a normal school year,” she said.

Breck and Leah Mills’ sister, Shelby Mills, 16, said she was also looking forward to seeing her friends and gaining that fair showing experience.

-Messenger photo by Kriss Nelson
Gabby Stewart works with one of her seven goats that she was planning on showing for 4-H at the Webster County Fair on her family’s farm near Gowrie on Tuesday night.

“I like going and hanging out with my classmates and other kids from other schools that have the same interests that I have,” she said. “Just learning. That is the main thing. Just seeing how I can do better for the future.”

Shelby Mills said she has been prepping her pig and sheep for the showing at the fair. And like most 4-H’ers she is hoping for other show opportunities.

“I hope we can figure something out so we can still have fun with our animals,” she said.

Leah, Breck and Shelby Mills’ mother ,Wendy Mills, said as disappointing as it is not having their 4-H fair, she said they will make the best of it.

“You have to,” she said. “We don’t have a choice. That’s a learning opportunity for the kids. There are things that are out of our control, so you just have to kind of go with it. It’s OK to be disappointed, but it’s not OK to be discouraged.”


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