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Rock County Fair begins today

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LUVERNE -- The Rock County Fair, which officially begins today in Luverne, isn't just another fair for the Spencer and Pam Sells family of Beaver Creek.

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Their youngest of two children, Lee, will complete his last year as a 4-H exhibitor when the fair ends Saturday night, bringing an end to more than 15 years of 4-H service for the Sells family.

Lee Sells started his 4-H career as a member of the Cloverbuds while his sister, Lindsy, was a full-fledged 4-H'er in Beaver Creek's Willing Workers 4-H Club. In the past decade, his projects have included everything from foods to home environment, woodworking, shop and swine production.

This year, however, his lone project is swine -- he will show three crossbred pigs in today's 4-H show, slated to begin at 8 a.m. Maintaining one project area was work enough for Sells, who recently completed his freshman year at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is spending his summer working for Habilitative Services, Inc. in Luverne.

To the dismay of the Rock County 4-H support staff, he didn't enroll in the foods project his final 4-H year. Lee became infamous for bringing his leftover baked goods to the 4-H fair office after judging was completed.

"I love to cook," he said, adding that he may just bring some treats in for 4-H staffers for old-times' sake before this year's fair is over.

Sells has been active in all facets of 4-H, serving multiple offices at the club level and two years as president of the Rock County 4-H Federation. He has been a Rock County 4-H Ambassador in each of the past five years, helping lead activities such as day camps for younger 4-H members and assisting during county fair livestock shows.

Though the county fair is the pinnacle of the 4-H calendar year, Sells said he has enjoyed everything -- from working with younger kids to getting more people active in 4-H. He said the organization taught him a lot of leadership skills, helped boost his confidence and allowed him to experience a lot of different things.

"It's been a great program for our kids," his mom, Pam, said. "They got to see and do a lot by being in 4-H."

As her children went through the 4-H program, Pam served on the Rock County Extension Committee, recently retiring from the post after nine years. She has also helped lead the Pop Stop, a county fair booth that raises money to support the 4-H Exchange program, and plans to remain a 4-H volunteer after this year.

While Pam was never a 4-H member, her husband, Spencer, took part in the Willing Workers 4-H Club for about eight years growing up. He showed beef back then, and now volunteers on the county fair's livestock committee, working primarily with the swine project. Spencer is also a Rock County Fair Board member and plans to remain active as such.

As their youngest child completes his final 4-H year, the Sells are looking forward to the change of not having to get livestock and projects ready for the fair.

"It'll be fun to just come and watch and not to load all the livestock," Pam said.

For Sells, that aspect will be the most difficult.

"I'll miss (4-H) -- the fun of being able to show the livestock and go to the state fair as a participant," he said. "I'll miss being involved."

His favorite thing about the county fair is perhaps the same feeling others share, whether they've been in 4-H, and that's getting together with friends and neighbors who you don't get to see often.

"You can see the different projects people bring in ... watch the shows, see the livestock," Sells said.

The livestock is already on the grounds for this year's fair, and the shows get an early start today with the 4-H swine show beginning at 8 a.m. The remainder of today includes the 4-H dairy show at 11 a.m., 4-H goat show at 1:30 p.m., Lamb Lead and 4-H sheep show at 3 p.m., and the 4-H Fashion Revue at 6 p.m. There will be a beef feed prepared by the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen's Association, with serving to begin at 5:30 p.m. Evening entertainment is the Rock County Talent Contest, beginning at 7 p.m.

Friday's events include the 4-H beef show at 8 a.m., with the 4-H horse pleasure show getting under way at 10 a.m. There will be a senior citizens program at 2 p.m., and the 4-H dog exhibition show starts at 5 p.m. Rock County Land Management is offering a free nitrate testing and mercury thermometer exchange from 2 to 7 p.m. A pork feed will begin at 5:30 p.m., with food prepared by the Rock County Pork Producers Association. Evening entertainment is a ranch rodeo, to begin at 6 p.m.

Saturday marks the final day of the 2006 Rock County Fair. The day begins with the 4-H Livestock Auction at 9 a.m., the 4-H pet show at 10:30 a.m., 4-H cat show at 11:15 a.m., 4-H horse games show at 1 p.m., 4-H premier showmanship at 5 p.m., and 4-H parade of champions at 6 p.m. The biofuels enduro race will start at 7 p.m.

Commercial exhibit buildings will open at 4 p.m. today and remain open until 10 p.m. They will open again from 2 to 10 p.m. Friday, and 3 to 10 p.m. Saturday. The Floral Hall Building will open at 10 a.m. daily. Mad Jax Inc., is on the Midway.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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