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4-H members take on Missouri State Fair

State Fair Stories: From cattle to crochet, there is a project for every 4-H’er, and it’s on display at the state fair.

Mindy Ward, Editor, Missouri Ruralist

August 22, 2023

4 Min Read
Delanden Edwards holding on to young bull calf inside a showring
FOCUS ON BEEF: Delanden Edwards is either focused on his young bull calf or the judge during the Angus Show at the Missouri State Fair. The Camp Branch 4-H Club member from Wright City, Mo., made his second appearance at the fair and garnered a division win. He also admits to eating a few funnel cakes at the fair. Photos by Mindy Ward

For many young people, their first interaction with agriculture or the Missouri State Fair is by joining 4-H. Whether large projects such as livestock, or others in the arts, members are proud to exhibit at the Missouri State Fair.

During their days at the fair, they share their stories with fairgoers and make memories with fellow 4-H’ers. For some, exhibiting at the Missouri State Fair becomes much more: It turns into a tradition.

Cattle showman raises beef from fair to fork

With one hand on the halter and the other on the show stick, Delanden Edwards led his Angus bull calf into the Missouri State Fair Coliseum for the championship drive. Those in the ring with him, both animals and humans, are more than twice his age. While his young bull calf that was born March 2 won his class, it came up short during this outing.

The placing does not deter the Wright City 4-H’er. This is the second year Edwards has exhibited cattle at the state fair. He says it is a fun experience. “This year, I have two bulls and two heifers,” the Camp Branch 4-H member says.

The state fair is all about family. His dad, Duke Edwards, and mom, Michelle Case, are ringside to cheer him on. The Edwards family raises livestock in Warren County, but they work with Green Gate Harris Farm out of Wentzville, Mo., when it comes to exhibiting purebred Angus cattle. It is like an extended livestock family.

However, like any young 4-H member, for Delanden, raising cattle is about two things: “I get money, and I get to eat it,” he says.

Crafty 4-H’er shares passion with youth

Weaved together with a crochet hook, the fuchsia, teal and beige afghan blanket sits on display at the Missouri State Fair 4-H Building. It is the handiwork of 14-year-old Sadie Jackson of Scotland County.

“I looked up afghan patterns on YouTube,” the Jolly Jacks and Jills 4-H Club member said. “I found this one and followed the directions. I like how it turned out.”

Jackson is no stranger to finding items with her name on them in the building. She also has a sewing project on display. This is her seventh year in 4-H, and in six of those, she earned the right to showcase her work. In Missouri, 4-H projects must compete and win at the county fair to advance to the Missouri State Fair.

This year, Jackson spends most of her time at the state fair serving as the Northeast District Missouri 4-H ambassador. Elected during the annual Teen Conference, she represents her region of the state by answering questions in the 4-H Building, as well as distributing ribbons during livestock events. “I just help out wherever I’m needed,” she added. “The fair has always been fun for me.”

First-year fun in poultry barn

Jerrett Pate strolled up and down the poultry barn aisles before stopping in front of a wire cage with a large New Hampshire red rooster inside. “This one placed first in his class,” the Randolph County 4-H’er said. It was a big win for the first-time Missouri State Fair exhibitor from Cairo, but not his only win.

Pate, a member of the Neighborly Community 4-H Club, also entered a Leghorn rooster, Leghorn hen and Blue Breasted Old English Red rooster, all of which won first place in their classes during the Missouri State Fair Poultry Show. This is his second year raising chickens as a 4-H project.

“I enjoy taking care of them,” he said. “They are fun to have around.”

Raising quality birds is only one aspect of the competition. Pate competed in showmanship at the state fair as well.

To prepare for the event, he studied his breed standards. At the fair, he stands with a judge. “The judge will ask you a variety of questions about your bird and any disqualifications,” he said. Pate earned second place this year.

“It’s been really fun at the fair,” he added.

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About the Author(s)

Mindy Ward

Editor, Missouri Ruralist

Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.

After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.

There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.

“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”

Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.

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