About 55 youngsters battled scorching temperatures Monday during the first event of the Douglas County Free Fair.
Kate Smering, 13, is celebrating her final days in Kansas doing what she loves. The Lawrence teen-ager competed in the horse show at the 1995 Douglas County Free Fair for the last time Monday.
Kate is cherishing her time in the Midwest before her family makes its way east later this month. A change in her father's job requires the family to move to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Kate said, she is preparing for the adjustment to big-city life.
"Right after the fair, we are going on vacation to find a place to live in Philadelphia," Kate said. "Hopefully we can find a house near a barn so we can still board horses."
About 55 4-H youngsters battled scorching temperatures Monday afternoon during the first event of the 1995 county fair. Traditionally, the horse show has been the opening competition, but many times competitors and 4-H leaders are disappointed in the spectator turnout for the event. This year, the horse show was scheduled differently to allow more people to attend.
"We are trying to become more a part of the fair this year," said Regina Stout, 4-H horse superintendent. "We planned more of the events later in the afternoon so we could get more spectators and when the day is a bit cooler."
The children took center stage in the arena for the showmanship competition at noon Monday. The combination of 95-degree heat, fancy riding clothing and last-minute horse-show jitters exhausted some 4-Hers. Most of the participants, however, said it was worth the sweat.
"I go out almost every day to work with my horse," 10-year-old Jenna McGovern said after winning a blue ribbon in the showmanship event. "You have to spend a lot of time with your horse so he will get to know you."
Last week's rains caused several contenders to drop out of the competition because of horses' injuries, Stout said. The soft, wet ground made for poor riding conditions during peak rehearsal time. Even so, enrollment numbers in the 4-H horse projects have increased this year.
Practice doesn't always make perfect when it comes to horses. Stout said a child can work successfully with a horse for a year, but when show time arrives, the horse may fail to cooperate.
"These kids learn a lot of patience in the horse projects," Stout said. "Horses can be really inconsistent, and the kids learn very quickly how to control their emotions."