For 4-H'ers, the Minnesota state and county fairs are not just fun annual events. It's a chance to showcase their knowledge and skills they've gained throughout the year. With the pandemic changing the way 4-H’ers participated in the fairs last year, youth across the state are returning to in-person events.
Andrea Herbranson, 19, from North St. Louis County is getting her dogs in tip-top shape in preparation for the fair. Training dogs has been a family activity for the Herbransons for decades; they have belonged to the Iron Range Dog Training Club for many years.
Andrea works hard with her dogs, Lilly, a Border Collie and Mocha, a mini Australian shepherd to have the pups perform at their highest level. “You never know what the weather is going to be like,” Andrea said, “I train my dogs in all types of weather conditions, in the morning when there is due on the grass or in the blazing sun to condition the dogs. So when they go to show they won’t be shocked by the varying weather.”
“I am looking forward to actually being back in person!” Andrea said. “Last year fairs were virtual and lost the competitive lively atmosphere.” One of Andrea’s favorite aspects of showing her dogs is putting on their special collar or leash to let them know it’s showtime.
Sisters Serena, Lila, Anya, and mom, Lisha, are ready for competition. Showing cattle is a family tradition in the Pearson household. With 14 years spent working, raising and showing their best cows in the St. Louis County Fair.
Living on a dairy farm with 300 Holsteins gives the family more than enough to do. The family still finds time to prepare their top cattle for the annual county fair. “I like preparing them for the show ring,” said. “You have to be very particular about their appearance and hair.” Lisha adds: with “getting the cows clean is a process and getting them to stay clean is the hard part.” After the girls tend to their chores on the dairy farm they get straight to work training their show cows. “We teach them how to walk on a lead, perfect their gait and stance and practice keeping the animals heads up. All things we will be judged on.” said Serena.
The Pearsons did not participate in the virtual fairs during COVID-19. “This year we have the chance to show how hard we’ve been working with our cows.”