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Livestock weigh-ins mark start of the 2022 Goodhue County Fair

Goodhue County Fair board members expect more than 25,000 visitors this year.

Goodhue County Fair 2022
Hudson Bryan, member of the Vasa Happy Hustlers 4-H Club, leads his market steer Rufus off of the weigh scale at the Goodhue County Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.
Dené K. Dryden / Post Bulletin
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ZUMBROTA — The first livestock trailers began pulling into the Goodhue County Fairgrounds at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, and by noon, food vendors were already doling out cheese curds, pizza and milkshakes as the 2022 Goodhue County Fair kicked off with livestock weigh-ins for 4-H youth.

The fair, now in its 160th year, attracts 25,000 visitors every August, says Darla Vieths, treasurer of the Goodhue County Fair Board.

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“The fair is just such a big part of the community — all of Goodhue County, and surrounding counties come to the fair,” Vieths said. “We had several people from outside of the county at the open class to bring their items to show yesterday. We were very successful last year; we’re hopeful for that kind of success this year.”

In the sheep and goat barn, Grace Duncan cared for her two dairy goats, Lola and Cupcake. Duncan, a 12-year-old member of the Vasa Happy Hustlers 4-H Club, said she has been showing Toggenburg goats for five years.

“I started (4-H) because our friends have goats and I found them cool and I liked them,” Duncan said. “I continue 4-H because I love the goats.”

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Duncan says the most rewarding part of the fair experience is showing her goats.

“If you get a blue ribbon, that’s kind of the top thing. It’s one of the best things to be able to do that,” Duncan said. “It kind of all comes together because people get to see what you’ve done with your goats, or swine, whatever you’re showing.”

Near the beef barn, Hudson Bryan, a 17-year-old member of the Vasa Happy Hustlers 4-H Club, weighed in his market steer. Bryan has cared for Rufus (who weighed in at 1,465 pounds) since he was born in March 2021.

Goodhue County Fair 2022
Grace Duncan, member of the Vasa Happy Hustlers 4-H Club, shows her dairy goat Cupcake at the Goodhue County Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.
Dené K. Dryden / Post Bulletin

“I just like showing cattle and seeing all different types of cattle,” Bryan said.

A culmination of learning and community

With more than 600 4-H members around the county and 350 open class entrants, it takes a lot of volunteers to make the fair run smoothly.

“The place is crawling with volunteers, some that are helping us with general fair operations, others that are helping their organizations be a part of the fair and earn money,” said Chuck Schwartau, Goodhue County Fair board secretary. “You look to the 4-H side, there’s 150, 160 adult volunteer leaders in the county for each program. … Volunteers are just the lifeblood of this place.”

After being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fair is back to its normal caliber, said Marlys Duncan, Grace Duncan’s mother.

“They hauled in for one day, had to be masked the whole time,” she said of the fair’s 2020 showcase that replaced the usual livestock shows. “It allowed the kids to come and show their goats that they’ve been working on so hard all year.”

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That hard work is put on display and judged during the fair, which 4-H extension educator Aly Kloeckner says is part of the 4-H learning experience.

“It’s a learn-by-doing, mentorship-type program,” Kloeckner said. “The youth are asked to join community clubs, get to know each other and then work with adult mentors to hands-on learn throughout the year, where they then culminate their projects here at the fair. This is their showcase of what they’ve learned over the last year.”

The Goodhue County Fair runs through Saturday, Aug. 13.

Goodhue County Fair 2022
Goodhue County 4-H members' canning projects are on display at the Goodhue County Fair on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022.
Dené K. Dryden / Post Bulletin

Dené K. Dryden is the Post Bulletin's region reporter, covering the greater Rochester area. Before joining the Post Bulletin in 2022, she attended Kansas State University and served as an editor for the student newspaper, the Kansas State Collegian, and news director for Wildcat 91.9, K-State's student radio station. Readers can reach Dené at ddryden@postbulletin.com.
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