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Krause of Dodge Center sells steer for $15,000 at state fair

FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — Stephanie Krause, 13, of Dodge Center saw her crossbred steer sell for a record-breaking $15,000 at the Minnesota State Fair.

The 1,325-pound steer, Keith, was the highest selling animal in the 32nd 4-H Purple Ribbon Livestock Auction held Aug. 27 in the Judging Arena. The top bid came from Ames Construction of Burnsville. Keith was the Grand Champion Market Beef animal in the 4-H show and earlier this summer earned Grand Champion honors at the Olmsted County Fair.

Krause  has cerebral palsy and drove her wheelchair into the sale ring, holding up her Grand Champion plaque. Her friend, twenty-year-old Zach Wangen of Ellendale, held on to Keith's lead while the auctioneer took bids.

Wangen has become like the older brother Krause never had, said her father Mike. He even follows Krause's request to use her pink, leopard-print show stick while working with Keith, even though the other guys give him a hard time for it. 

He led the steer in the show ring when it was named the state fair's Grand Champion. It was a big moment, especially since this is the last year Wangen is young enough to show with 4-H.

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"It was awesome, it's not every day you get to do that," he said.

For safety reasons, Krause is not usually allowed to lead cattle at shows, although at the county fair she held a rope tied to a heifer's halter during a showmanship class. Wangen was in the ring with her.

Stephanie worked with Keith at her uncle Bill Krause's place near Pine Island by tying his lead to her wheelchair. She visited the steer every day after school, combing his coat and helping her family wash him three to four times daily for months to get him looking show-worthy. Working with cattle is one of her favorite activities.

"She's a very hard worker at it," said her mother, Lynn.

Mike and Lynn aren't concerned that the cattle could hurt their daughter. They work with the animals first and they know that all children who show livestock take on some risk of being injured.

"To us, it's no different than any other kid," said Mike.

About 90 purple ribbon 4-H exhibits were in the auction this year. Sponsored by the Minnesota Livestock Breeders' Association, the event rewards 4-H exhibitors at the state fair for their top-winning market beef, dairy steers, swine, sheep and goats. For each of the last three years, total sales have exceeded $300,000.

Businesses and other donors, usually county-wide Purple Ribbon clubs, raise money to place bids. The 4-H members receive the market price for their animals plus 78 percent of the price their livestock brings in the sale. Twenty percent is used to support 4-H and 2 percent is designated to help build the new AgStar Arena, which will replace the Judging Arena on the state fairgrounds.

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As exhibitor of the Grand Champion Market Beef animal, Krause also won the use of a Featherlite trailer for a year.

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