ADRIAN — When you show a lot of livestock at the fair, and home is a good 20-minute drive from Worthington, you haul your camper to the fairgrounds and fill it with show clothes, cowboy boots, show sticks and halters.
For Nobles County 4-H’er Paige Madison, fair week is busy, it’s a whole lot of work and it’s really fun.
“I love fair time,” said the recent Adrian High School graduate, who is in her third term as president of the Grand Prairie Rockets 4-H Club. “I love showing and just being at the fair.”
Camping on the grounds means she’s just a two-minute walk from the livestock barns — instead of a 15-mile commute — and it makes show days and late-night checks on her menagerie so much easier.
Madison intends to show three or four beef animals, six sheep, five goats and three pigs this week at the Nobles County Fair, which means she will be competing in the ring with one animal or another during the fair's first three days.
“I’ve always been crazy and taken a lot of projects,” said Madison, who is also showing several non-livestock projects, including exploring animals and veterinary science displays and creative arts.
A long-time exhibitor in the horse project, she was one of two Nobles County 4-H’ers to compete in the 4-H Horse Show in Jackson County a couple of weeks ago.
“I used to only show horse and beef, then I added goats because we had them,” Madison shared. “Then I added swine and sheep. I loved all of them and couldn’t stop showing any one of them.”
Madison’s love for animals, her long-time involvement in 4-H and years in the FFA have led her on a planned career in agriculture. She will attend South Dakota State University in Brookings this fall to pursue a degree in animal science, with minors in ag business and equine studies.
“I want to be involved in the ag industry, whether being a feed consultant or farm manager, working with animals or in an ag career,” she said. “Eventually I want to farm on my own and raise livestock.”
Madison, the daughter of Les Madison and Dawn Anderson, began her 4-H career as a Cloverbud around age 5. She said while the county and state fair are among her favorite activities in the youth leadership organization, there are so many other experiences she’s enjoyed.
For the past six years, she has served as a Nobles County 4-H Ambassador, a youth leadership opportunity that encourages teens to help with day camps, family fun nights and at shows during the fair. Madison has also been involved in the 4-H Interstate Exchange program for five years, traveling to and hosting 4-H’ers from Cuero, Texas, Minidoka County, Idaho and Rush County, Kansas.
“I love travelling and going to new places and learning about the area,” Madison said, noting that the ambassadors hosted 4-H’ers from Kansas in late June, and will travel to Kansas sometime next summer.
“4-H is this little seed that grows into so much more,” Madison said.
The Grand Prairie Rockets club officer team is filled with Madisons at the helm, as her younger brother, Blake, serves as treasurer, and her sister, Lauren, is club secretary. The club is one of the largest, filled with youth members across the western half of Nobles County, from Ellsworth to Lismore.
“The past few years we’ve really grown,” Madison said. “Now the siblings are really coming in, and we’ve had a lot of new people come in.”
She touts the club’s annual National 4-H Week membership drive for helping to bring in new 4-H’ers, and said it promotes the youth organization every October by posting a display in a downtown Adrian storefront, talking to kids at school and sending information home with them, and posting 4-H information on an electronic messaging board in Adrian.
The club has also gained recognition for its community service projects. Each year, members make ornaments with the residents of the assisted living facilities in Adrian and Ellsworth — ornaments that are ultimately displayed on the club’s entry in the Love INC Christmas Tree Forest. They also continue to walk a 2-mile stretch of road ditches each year to pick up trash through the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Adopt-A-Highway program.
During the county fair this week, the Grand Prairie Rockets members are collecting new and gently worn shoes for their third consecutive Soles4Souls donation drive. People are invited to bring their donations to the 4-H office at the fairgrounds, where there will be collection boxes.