Local kids compete in many categories
Seven-year-old Teagan Scott must not have heard the expression “it’s like herding cats.” Scott has been prepping her cat, Kit Kat, for his debut at the Okanogan County Fair, where he will show his talents in an agility course.
Scott is one of 32 youths in the Methow Valley Cascaders 4-H Club this year, who are excited to be returning to the fair after it was canceled last year because of the COVID pandemic. Eight are showing steers, nine bringing pigs, three sheep, and 10 exhibiting in the Fur and Feather division.
“They’re so excited to be able to show their animals and have a live and online auction,” said Hilary Kaltenbach, co-leader of the 4-H group. Being there in person is an important recognition of their efforts, she said.
Although COVID regulations kept the Cascaders from meeting in person until late spring, the Cascaders are exhibiting a stunning array of animals and projects, Kaltenbach said.
So much of 4-H is about sharing knowledge and bringing in new families, so it was hard not to have in-person meetings, Kaltenbach said. They held small outdoor gatherings to work with livestock, but some activities, like the horse club, didn’t adapt easily to Zoom, Kaltenbach said.
The Cascaders had sewing and cooking kits to work on at home, but without an adult to oversee the projects, it was challenging for some kids to learn a new skill, Kaltenbach said.
Scott’s siblings, 8-year-old Ole and 14-year-old Quincy, are taking steers to the fair. Quincy started bottle-feeding calves when he was 3, so he’s very comfortable around the huge animals, his mother, Christine Scott, said. “They gentle up when you bottle-feed them,” she said.
The youths spend time with their animals every day, feeding them, walking them around the pasture and grooming them. They also produce educational exhibits and explain what they’ve learned to judges at the fair.
James and Kara McMillan, who’ve started a small flock of sheep, are showing lambs for the fourth time at the fair. They also exhibited lambs at the North Central Washington Fair in August, bringing back ribbons including reserve champion, their mother, Alisha McMillan, said.
Last year, the livestock auction was conducted entirely online. This year, it will be in-person, with the option to bid remotely. The fair is adding extra bleachers to increase social distancing during the auction.
“The auction is so much fun — to see an 8-year-old kid leading a steer around. It’s such a direct way of supporting kids and their learning,” Kaltenbach said.
4-H teaches kids to care for another living creature and gives them an opportunity to pursue a range of interests — everything from a computer program to a welding project to a plate of cookies. “It’s an amazing array,” Kaltenbach said.