Families of 4-Hers spend weeks getting dozens of projects ready for the Douglas County Free Fair.
Saturday morning, the pings of pellet guns and the meows of cats filled the building at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds.
It is almost fair time.
On either side of the building, 4-H club members were competing in early events. Hand pets and cats were shown on one side; on the other, the shooting team shot targets with air rifles.
Many of the 4-H members have been preparing for weeks and months for the fair, which starts Aug. 3. County fairs may bring to mind visions of prize steers and perfect jars of jam, but 4-H members enter in diverse categories like shooting and entomology. And they enter more than one.
Variety of activities
The air rifle team was getting ready for the fair on one side of the building. Nine shooters in prone, sitting and standing positions aimed at targets Saturday. They fitted arm straps and put on their safety goggles, pumped and loaded their rifles and fired.
Nessa Lickteig, the daughter of Scott and Annette Lickteig, the instructors, came ready to shoot, with a tackle box full of supplies. In it she had pellets, safety glasses and her hair brush.
``Make the line safe, make all rifles safe,'' Scott Lickteig told the shooters, getting ready to check their targets.
Annette, the instructor for the younger shooters, said the shooting competition was before the fair, but the team would have a display every night from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during the fair.
``This is one of those things that is pretty hard to display,'' she said.
On the other side of the building, the Rudman family was getting ready for the hand pet show. They have been working for weeks to prepare for the fair. On Friday night, Kristi, 10, and Alyssa, 7, showed their sewing projects.
``You put in hours every week,'' said Tina Rudman, the girls' mother. ``You chip away at it all year.''
Saturday morning, the family took Alyssa's pet rabbit, Patty, in to show as a hand pet.
Patty was the runt of the litter. Alyssa gave her extra care, holding her and cleaning her eyes when she was small.
``I gave her extra food and water,'' she said, holding the rabbit in her lap. ``I would go out every day and make sure she was OK.''
Alyssa and Kristi will show sheep and poultry and will enter projects in cooking and crafts. The girls worked hard on all their projects, but Alyssa said she liked her animals best.
``Because they're fun to play with,'' she said.
Kristi stood to the side, holding a kitten belonging to one of her friends, Morgan Grissum. Kristi said she was still thinking about her cooking projects.
``You want to do it a couple of days before the fair so it doesn't get icky,'' she said. ``I do cake decorating.''
Morgan 10, was showing one of her family's cats. Of all her projects -- crafts, horses, poultry, rabbits, steers and cats -- she thought her rabbits and her steer had taken the most preparation.
Dan Rudman, 12, was at the pet show with his sisters. His passion and biggest entry, though, is entomology. He has two competitive cases of specimens, he said, divided into orders and families.
``I don't want to say I have all the common ones, but...'' he said. Now he is looking for specific insects, hunting for them according to their habits and habitats.
``We go on moth hunts,'' he said. ``I finally caught one I've been looking for seven years.''
He also does rocketry, but he couldn't quite say how long his project took to prepare.
``It depends how many times you make mistakes and how many times you sit on it when it's on your bed,'' he said, grinning.
There are several events this week leading up to the fair. The clothing competitions, shooting, and hand pets and cat shows were held Friday and Saturday. Throughout the week there will be demonstrations and preparations at the fairgrounds. The horse show royalty contest is Wednesday and the show is Saturday. The fair opens for entries Aug. 3, and judging is Aug. 4. The fair will run through Aug. 8.
-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.