Douglas County 4-H Free Fair organizers say it's been the hottest fair they can remember, but 4-H youth who did the toughest work at the fair weren't ready for it to end Saturday.
"I'd rather have it go on forever," said 15-year-old Marla Metsker, member of the Lone Star 4-H Club.
Metsker had good reason to be excited about the fair. Her grand champion crossbred market hog brought $732.55 at the livestock auction Saturday night. She said her parents would split the money between her and her brothers and put it in savings.
Nearly 140 animals cows, hogs, sheep, goats and rabbits were sold Saturday night at the Douglas County 4-H Fairground's Community Building, ringing a total of $86,112.17.
Each child could pick one animal to sell at the auction.
Josaie Polk, 15, probably will stock up on new school clothes and put the rest of her $2,686.20 in the bank. That's the price the Cottonwood 4-H Club member fetched from Hy-Vee Food & Drug Store for her 1,266-pound, grand champion shorthorn steer.
The heat has been a change of pace for the prize steer. It spent the last few weeks in a 60-degree cooler room so it wouldn't lose its hair, said Jo Polk, Josie Polk's mother.
Animal safety in the extreme heat has been a concern throughout the fair, said Trudy Rice, Douglas County Extension director.
"The kids have just been wonderful with keeping the animals with plenty of water," she said.
A highlight of the fair has been the efforts of the more than 500 volunteers, many of them former 4-H participants who are now in their 20s and came back to help, Rice said.
A llama show and a commercial petting zoo were new features, which organizers hope to continue next year.
"The petting zoo was always the busiest place on the fairgrounds," Rice said.
Although the children enjoyed pocketing money at the auction for the animals they'd been raising for a year or more, some had grown attached and had a hard time letting go.
"Some of the kids started crying," said 12-year-old Kristin Penny, member of the Lone Star 4-H Club, who was preparing to sell her sheep. "I kind of have been getting attached during the fair, but I haven't cried yet."