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Fair opens with a roar Wednesday

August 17, 2018

By Gloria Hafemeister

for the Daily Times

BEAVER DAM — One of the highlights of the Dodge County Fair during the last quarter century has been the Little Britches showmanship contest on Sunday afternoon.

Organizers are planning a special 25th anniversary celebration of the event this year at the fair.

According to organizer Barb Natzke, who has worked with the event since it began, Animart has sponsored the event every year since it began, presenting T-shirts to each participant.

“We plan to honor Animart this year for their support,” said Natzke. “We are inviting former participants in the Little Britches to come to the fair to take part in the celebration.”

Natzke said the event started as a way to promote Sunday afternoon at the fair as family day.

“It is an opportunity for the little children between ages 4 and 8 years old to get involved. They do not compete to determine who wins but rather for the experience and fun of showing.”

Natzke was instrumental in helping the Dairy Youth Advisory Committee at the fair start the event. She had judged the event at other fairs and found it to be very popular among the families whose young children were anxious to get involved but were perhaps too bashful to get out into the open-class ring to show with exhibitors of all ages.

“Many counties had begun this activity,” she said. “Some counties also included calf-dressing contests.”

In one of the counties where she judged she saw registration for the contest double once people saw how much fun it was. The same thing happened when the event started in Dodge County.

There were 13 youngsters registered in the age 4-5 group and 21 in the 6- to 8-year-old group when the event started in 1993.

Many of those are still involved in showing or are working in the dairy industry yet today.

“This contest emphasizes proper showmanship techniques to the child and how well the calf has been trained to walk in the ring,” she said. “It does not require prior clipping, washing, brushing and fitting and show halters.”

She added, “Because it is all about dairy the committee requires white/khaki show pants and no hats for showing. The contest is not designed for beef breeds.”

Participants show dairy breed calves born in May or June.

The aim of the committee from the start has been to provide fun and experience for youths and perhaps build some interest among the youngsters to continue to show.

Many participants in dairy shows report that they got their start in the Little Britches event.

Ty Hildebrandt was one of the youths enrolled in the first Little Britches contest at the fair and is farming full-time with his family near Hustisford. He still enjoys showing dairy cattle and will be showing one of the family’s cows in this year’s futurity contest at the fair.

Kristin (Natske) Olsen also participated in the first Little Britches event in Dodge County. She went on to become Wisconsin’s Alice in Dairyland and continues involvement with the dairy industry.

Many of the dairy exhibitors at the fair each year and dairy scholarship winners indicate that they had their start showing in Little Britches.

The event continues to be a popular attraction at the fair and will be held immediately following the dairy auction on Sunday afternoon in the Farm Progress Arena at the fair.

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