4-H'ers busy at Meeker County Fair

LITCHFIELD, Minn. - Christian Liebfried of Hutchinson stood proudly by his faverolle chickens as he waited to show the birds at the Meeker County Fair in Litchfield last week.

Joel Schmitz, 17, of Eden Valley, showed several dairy animals at the Meeker County 4-H show during the county fair last week. Schmitz is pictured with spring yearling North Stars Go Speckles, a Milking Shorthorn.

LITCHFIELD, Minn. - Christian Liebfried of Hutchinson stood proudly by his faverolle chickens as he waited to show the birds at the Meeker County Fair in Litchfield last week.

The first year 4-Her was armed with knowledge lest he be questioned by the judge. The chickens were born on May 30, he said. The breed has a fifth toe and its feathered feet that has earned it the nickname "French poodle."

He'd taken great care getting the birds ready for show on the fair's first day. Liebfried had given the two a bath, taking care not to get the head wet and he'd clipped their nails.

Further into the barn, three sheep exhibitors were giving their animals a final clipping before the Friday sheep show. Madison Hurrle and Luke Merten were both working with their breeding ewes while Austin Schiefelbein prepared his Hampshire for the open February ram class.

Quinten Brice shows hogs, but was helping his friend, Luke, for the afternoon. He's helped Luke prepare for the show at past county shows, Quinten said. He likes doing it and it doesn't take him long to prep his own animal on show day.


Schiefelbein worked alone on his ram. He's taken part in 4-H shows for the past 10 years.

In the next barn, Traci Sechler oversaw the final rinse of the two market barrows her sons Daniel and Caleb would show.

It was a familiar scene for Sechler who showed hogs as a 4-H'er in Pipestone County, she said. Daniel, a fourth year 4-H'er, gave the hogs a final rinse as Caleb prepared their pen.

Meanwhile, Joel Schmitz of Eden Valley was raking the dairy cattle barn's dirt floor as he completed bedding his dairy cows.

It was easy to see the fervor the 17-year-old has for the dairy industry. He's looking at college dairy programs to see which will be the best fit for him as he makes plans to start his own dairy operation in the future. And he's thought quite a bit about the venture. He's developed his own floor plans which include robotic milkers. Milking Shorthorns will have a place in his herd, he said.

The breed caught his eye at a sales barn several years ago when, with money he'd received from his grandparents, he purchased his first dairy animal. Of the 10 cows he now owns, eight are Milking Shorthorns, Schmitz said.

His family's dairy operation has 60 head with 30 milking cows, he said. Besides Milking Shorthorn, the farm has Red and White and Black and White Holsteins and his grandfather's favorite, a Guernsey.

Several of his Milking Shorthorn cows are familiar with the showring. His roan and white speckled spring yearling, North Stars Go Speckles, placed eighth at the World Dairy Expo. Another, a two year old named Blissful Go Omega, was a fall yearling when she won her Expo class.


From rabbits to poultry, to hogs, goats, sheep, dairy and beef, 4-H livestock exhibitors had a busy start to the 140th Meeker County Fair. For others, there was a flurry of activity before the four-day event as they finished non-livestock exhibits displayed in the 4-H building.

Carnival rides, grandstand shows, commercial exhibits, bingo and food stands added to the activity, sights and sounds of the fair.

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