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4-H judging concludes with happy participants

Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Alex Schroeder took the top spot ­ he Fall Senior Yearling division with his cow Scarlet. Schroeder was also praised for his appropriate face mask choice.

NEW ULM — The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Brown County Free Fair, but to be fair to 4-H clubs, animal judging went ahead this week, concluding on Friday.

The 4-H barns were open this week, but only to the 4-H exhibitors, immediate families and volunteers. Everyone who entered the area had their temperature screened and masks were required for all.

Social distancing was maintained as best as possible. Awards were assigned but ribbons were not distributed until later.

Brown County 4-H Program Coordinator Abby Schwab said they were being very cautious when it came to health recommendations.

“We’re following Minnesota Department of Health and University of Minnesota guidelines,” Schwab said. “We want to put safety first.”

Overall, 4-H members believed the judging went well. The kids were happy to have a chance to exhibit their animals.

Friday was the last day of judging and featured poultry and dairy cows.

The poultry division was separated by families. Each family showing animals had a table with cages to help social distance.

The dairy show featured many veteran exhibitors, many have been participating for years. Gracie Sellner brought her four-year-old cow “Bless” to the show. Sellner said she didn’t think there would be a show at all this year, but was glad she had an option to show.

“I like being in the ring with the animals,” she said.

Alex Schroeder took first in the Fall Senior Yearling division. He was happy to show dairy cows because it was fun to see the animals develop.

Dairy Judge Karen Johnson said it was great to be part of a show where you don’t need to worry about judging poor quality animals.

“Things are different this year, but I am happy the youth could get out,” Johnson said. This year a lot of animal judging went virtual, but Johnson said the kids learned better in person because it was a hands-on experience.

Poultry Judge Mark Peterson also preferred the in-person judging because it allowed for easier feedback. Overall, he said the show was very well organized and the kids were well prepared. Peterson noticed in other counties, kids became discouraged as animal shows were canceled, but in Brown County “they stuck with it.”

“I can’t say enough great things,” Schwab said. “The youths and volunteers have been amazing. It has been a great week.”

Full show judging results and more photos will follow in upcoming editions of The Journal.

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