ST. CHARLES – Kaitlyn Johnsen said she hopes all her hard work over the last year pays off this week as she competes with her dairy cow at the Kane County Fair.
Johnsen, 17, of St. Charles tried to keep her cow cool in Wednesday afternoon’s heat and humidity by providing plenty of water.
The eight-year 4-H veteran was preparing Wednesday – the first day of the five-day county fair – for her first time showing cows.
“My dad’s a dairy farmer and he finally caved in,” she said about showing cows for 4-H.
Johnsen said she has been caring for her heifer since it was born Sept. 3 of last year.
To catch judges’ attention, she clipped the cow’s hair, cleaned her hooves and made sure they could see the cow’s bone features – all things looked for when judging a dairy cow.
“I’ve definitely been working hard these past few months taking care of her and I hope it pays off,” Johnsen said.
With Wednesday’s temperatures in the low 90s, those showing animals set up fans nearby, occasionally spraying them with mist or hoses. Some kept frozen water bottles in cages for smaller animals, such as rabbits, to help them cool down.
Kellie Ruder, 14, of Maple Park, said battling the heat to show her pigs was a challenge.
“It was a lot of fun, but it was very hot,” she said after showing her cross-breed gilt, or female pig. A large fan was propped up nearby.
Liz Dorn of St. Charles, who was at the fair Wednesday with her children and nieces and nephews to see the animal judging, tried to stay cool by eating ice cream from the Colonial Cafe & Ice Cream stand. She said her family will likely stop by the fair all five days.
“My family’s been coming here for years,” she said. “Just hanging out is the best part.”
For Sammy Parson, 19, of DeKalb, this week’s fair is somewhat bittersweet. As a 10-year 4-H member, he’s preparing to show his beef cattle for the last time this year with the club. Despite having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to care for the cows each day, he said he’s going to miss it.
“I love doing it,” he said. “I love working on the animals. It teaches you good work ethic.”
Aside from animal judging, the fair’s opening day included Battle of the Bands, which included 13 bands. Bands also took the main stage in the evening, as they’re slated to do each night of the fair.
Today’s fair schedule opens up with animal judging starting at 8:30 a.m., and the Midway opens at noon for the carnival, food tents, commercial expo and family events. The International Truck Pull Championship starts at 7 p.m. at the Grandstand and costs $10.
Six String Crossing Band is slated to perform at 6 p.m. at the Miller Lite Soundstage, and the evening concludes with Hillbilly Rockstarz Country Band taking the same stage at 8 p.m.