In the 1940’s and 50’s, my father shared his love of Jerseys and the fair with my oldest sister and two oldest brothers. During one June and July, my sister remembers working with her Jersey heifer Dawn Fawn to get her ready for the fair’s dairy exhibition. Between chores of washing clothes and fixing meals, Marge would find time every day to slip away to the barn. She’d put Dawn Fawn on a rope halter and lead her out into the barnyard. As Marge would patiently cajole her heifer and whisper lovingly in her ear, the circle drive in front of the barn would transform into the MVF show ring. Dawn Fawn would practice going forward slowly in front of the judge, stopping, backing up, and getting her feet placed just right. Dad would sometimes climb down from his tractor to give Marge some hints about showmanship.
“See how her back sways down too much. But tickle her belly a little when she’s standing. Yes, like that. Now, her top line looks much straighter.”
As the fair approached, Dawn Fawn got more and more of my sister’s attention, and together they were ready to appear in front of the judge. Meanwhile, even as the fair drew nearer, my two oldest brothers were busy with chores on the farm, so their heifers didn’t get quite as much practice.
When the MVF dairy show came around, our family got wrapped up in the excitement. To my brothers, being at the fair was like vacation: you get to sleep in the barns in the stalls next to our animals and tack---which meant, of course, a break from normal milking chores! In the show ring, all Marge’s work with Dawn Fawn paid off. Her heifer won Reserve Champion overall all breeds. One honor was that they should get to walk in front of the grandstand behind the Grand Champion winner and handler. While my sister beamed, little did she know that several judges could not believe that a girl could have done all the work to prepare that heifer for the fair. Surely, her brothers had done the work for her. My dad knew better and wasn’t going to let my sister be deprived of the honor she deserved. Eventually, he convinced the judges that my sister, and not her brothers, should get to lead her heifer in the victory lap. To this day, working with Dawn Fawn and showing her at the fair is one of my sister’s favorite memories: not only because of lovely Dawn Fawn, but how patient hard work pays off in the long run.
From the beginning days to today, the MVF has continued to help youth like my sister learn important life lessons and skills through the 4-H and FFA programs. We owe a huge thank you to the Fair’s Board of Directors and their leadership.
Our family’s involvement in the MVF lives on. In 2016, the Jersey steer entered by our Cinnamon Ridge farm won Reserve Champion in the beef carcass class. At the Iowa State Fair, our Cinnamon Ridge cheese won several blue ribbons. But you don’t have to wait for the fair: our award-winning beef and cheeses can be found at our farm store, Freight House farmers market and the Freight House food hub. We hope to see you at the Mississippi Valley Fair. AND... Cinnamon Ridge cheese curds will be for sale at the dairy trailer located near the Claussen show building.