More bearable weather and a well-attended horse show Saturday got the Douglas County Free Fair off to a great start.
All in all, Saturday was a pretty good day for Becky Skaggs. Sure, Skaggs, 18, had to stand around for much of the day as she waited between events. She had to keep herself cool and also look after her horse, Shauna.
But cooler Saturday weather made that more bearable. Even more bearable was the ribbon Skaggs owned at the day's end for her first-place finish in barrel racing at the Douglas County 4-H Horse Show.
The horse show kicked off the Douglas County Free Fair, which runs through Aug. 7. Around 200 people came to the show, and between 60 and 70 4-H'ers competed. An open horse show, in which anyone can compete, will be held Tuesday evening.
Fair exhibits and buildings are ready to go, County Extension Agent Bill Wood said. The Douglas County 4-H Horse Show and cooler temperatures were both great ways to begin the week's festivities, he said. When he was helping set up the horse arena and display buildings Friday, he was less than optimistic.
"It was 100 degrees. I thought, 'This will be awful tomorrow,'" he said.
He was happy to be proved wrong. The cloudy weather helped not only by cooling the temperature, he said. Slight rains also softened the hard, dusty ground in the arena and made it better for riding.
The event showcased the positive work done by 4-H participants, Wood said.
"Kids join 4-H because they want to do something," he said. An event like Saturday's show introduces that work to other young people .
"Friends say, 'Hey, can I be part of that?'" he said.
Jay Haugh, Lawrence, said as she watched her 11-year-old daughter Emily ride that events like the horse show offer many benefits.
"It gives them so much confidence, even when they lose," she said. "It teaches responsibility for the animal and cooperation. Kids learn to make alot of decisions."
Erik Petersen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.