FERTILE, Minn. – Nine-year-old Kendall Grunhovd on Thursday continued her family’s 60-year 4-H tradition on the opening day of the Polk County Fair in Fertile as she reined Romeo around the arena.
Members of the Grunhovd family have been involved in the fair since the 1960s, when Kendall’s grandfather, Danny, now Polk County Fair Board president, showed dairy cattle, sheep and swine. A few decades later, Danny Grunhovd’s son, Brian, followed suit , and now Danny’s grandchildren – Kendall and her brother, Bennett, and their cousins Sofie and Ava – exhibit a variety of animals at the fair.
The 120th annual Polk County Fair opened on Wednesday, July 7, and continues through Sunday, July 11. Events include 4-H livestock shows, grandstand entertainment and the Armstrong Shows on the midway.
Thursday, horses took center stage at the fair as 4-Hers like Kendall showed equine in classes from barrels, to showmanship to western pleasure.
''Horses are the new addition with the grandkids,” said April Grunhovd, Kendall and Bennett’s mom. “I like them to be in 4-H because it teaches them about teamwork, about service, about caring. It’s a really great network of friendship and positive role models for the kids.”
''It teaches you about animals,” said Bennett, 12. ''You’ve got to take care of them.”
Kendall also has learned taking care of Romeo, a 15-year-old quarterhorse gelding, requires physical labor.
"I muck the stalls and tack him up,” she said.
Fourteen-year-old Sidney Erickson's family, like the Grunhovd family, has been involved in 4-H for decades. On Thursday, Sidney was behind the barn washing a 15-month-old black angus steer, which she planned to show in the market class.
Preparing for competition started months ago, she said.
“When we first get our animals, we have to halter break them and get them tame for the fair,” Sidney said.
Besides learning things about a variety of animals and how to care for them, 4-H gives its members an opportunity to teach other kids about livestock at events, such as the Polk County Fair, Sidney said.
“It’s a good leadership experience to tell why I do certain things,” she said.
Besides livestock, horticulture is on display – and for sale – at this year’s Polk County Fair. Marina Wiley, a University of Minnesota Crookston student, created a “Golden Eagle Garden,” made up of dozens of container plants for the fair.
“An agricultural garden has been a vision of mine for years,” said Nancy Grunhovd, who is married to Danny Grunhovd. “I wanted to see plants that are ready to pick so you can see what tomatoes look like on the vine.”
She approached Theresa Helgeson, UMC Agriculture and Natural Resources Department lab services coordinator, with the idea. Helgeson in turn asked Wiley if she wanted to create the garden for an independent study project.
Wiley’s ideas started with planning the garden in March, and in May she officially got to work picking out plants to display in the container garden, according to a news release from UMC. She and her father built structures for the display on weekends and used bedding plants from the UMC greenhouse, which she repotted into larger containers for the garden, then fertilized so they would grow well.
The garden Wiley created includes a variety of colorful annual flowers and perennial grasses, several varieties of unique herbs, such as chocolate mint, and fruits and vegetables.
“It’s been beyond what I expected,” Grunhovd said.
Information about the Polk County Fair: https://www.polkcountyfairfertilemn.com/