The 2020 Madison County Fair may well go down in the history books as not your typical summer festival. In past years, upon entering the fair, participants would see the blinking lights of the midway games, smell the enticing aroma of their favorite fair food, or head to the grandstand to see how much a tractor could pull.
At this year’s fair, only 4-H and FFA members, families, staff, and volunteers were allowed on the grounds. All had their temperatures checked upon entering the gate.
Grandstand shows were canceled. There were no open shows for the bottle calves, llamas, or alpacas. Farm Bureau did not have their cooking contest, and the Bill Riley Talent Show was unable to showcase the county’s talent.
Amidst the struggles of the new normal, the Madison County Fair lived up to its mission statement. They provided opportunities for area 4-H’ers, FFA members, youth, and adults of Madison County to showcase their accomplishments and talents in a safe family atmosphere.
“Through this fair, the youth will actually have an opportunity to better understand the meaning of the four ‘H’s which make up their pledge,” commented Casey Wenstrand, County Youth Coordinator for the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
Starting with Communications, which was held virtually, youth were then able to share their understanding and use of design elements and principles within their selected category in the clothing competition. Then handlers grabbed treat bags and leashes putting their best paw forward in leading their best friends through the tunnels, jumps and the obstacles of the agility event. Additionally, dogs competed in obedience, rally, and showmanship.
Photography, wood, metal craftsmanship and other exhibitions partially filled the Jackson Building as 4-H’ers showcased their talents. There was even a butterfly collection to be found. In previous years, many of their pieces would go on to compete at the Iowa State Fair.
Mother Nature put a damper on the horse show, which was to have had a morning start. It was moved to the following day during the morning, afternoon, and into the evening lights; horses and riders worked together to complete their tasks.
The goats and dairy cattle took their spots in the north ring and three cats were being judged under a tent by the varied industries building. The evening was set to end on a royal note as the King and Queen were crowned in Madison County style.
At the poultry show chickens of all shapes and sizes were strutting their stuff. Some even tried to fly the coop as handlers scattered to gather them up. Bunnies soon entered and began to multiply, as entrants explained their breeds to the judges. Some even hopped through the agility trials.
As temperatures began to climb into the 90s, it was time for the beef to enter the ring. Some of the cattle were judged in a pen of three, while others were led into the ring by their 4-H/ FFA handlers in an attempt to win the praise of the gentleman judging.
Heat and humidity came into play as the final competitors of the fair were the swine and the sheep.
The community came together at the end to bid on the livestock of the week at the 4-H/FFA Premium auction. Local auctioneers traveled the crowd to raise the dollar value. Monies raised help the youth supplement their educational costs and also reward them for their commitment to excellence in livestock production.
Editor’s note: Final results of the 2020 Madison County Fair will be featured in a future edition of the Madisonian.