Bonds are strong at Floyd County Fair
By Kelly Terpstra, email@example.com
For some of the people participating in the Floyd County Fair, the pages of that chapter of their lives were just starting to get turned.
Whether it’s seeing a project to completion or saying one last goodbye to a beloved animal, memories are the centerpiece of a week filled with triumphs and new challenges.
Some dark clouds brought rain off and on toward the end of the week, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the excitement and energy of folks delighting in this annual county event that features a lot more than just purple ribbons and customary cuisine.
Lesley Mehmen Milius, the Iowa State University Extension director in Floyd County, has helped organize the fair in her current position since 2001. She talked about some of the bonds that are created.
“I think about the friendships that kids build, the lifelong friendships that they build. Maybe even the romances that happen at the fair,” said Milius.
Milius works with about 200 4-H members from 12 different clubs. The fair is just one facet of the programs offered that are a powerful driving force in the lives of many young adults striving to better themselves and the community.
Milius said 59 percent of the youth in Floyd County are reached with some type of Extension programming.
“We have a very strong youth program overall,” she said.
Milius knows life lessons learned aren’t always easy.
“Some of the skills that these kids are learning — and they’re learning some hard skills, not just the fun, the excitement — they also learn the hardship skills of letting go of something that they have worked really hard on,” she said.
One such fair-goer who is stepping onto new ground is 15-year-old Austin Connerley of Charles City. This is his first crack at showing animals and he’s having fun doing it.
There’s always pitfalls along the way and those came in the form of heavy rain Thursday morning. The precipitation came back late Thursday afternoon, but it didn’t stop him or anybody else for that matter in accomplishing the task at end.
“I know I came here soaked,” said Connerley, who also runs track and cross country at Charles City High School, where he’ll be a sophomore this fall. “We worked through it.”
The rain didn’t slow down his first effort at showing chickens, but he did have to do some quick thinking on the fly. He was getting ready to show those chickens when a light rain started.
“They’ve never actually been in downpouring rain,” he said of his birds. “But if it starts downpouring, not sprinkling, like it did this morning, I don’t know what they’ll do. I hope they don’t fight me.”
Connerley is thinking about showing horses next year. His grandparents have three of them on their farm in Wisconsin that he visits. A novice at showing animals, he was a bit perplexed on which species to choose.
“I thought about showing rabbits. It seems the same,” he chuckled.
Connerley wants to minor in agriculture when he goes to college, but for the time being, he’s all about taking new paths and broadening his horizons.
“I like to be able to do a lot of things,” said Connerley. “I don’t know what I want to do when I am older, so it’s nice to explore new opportunities.”