Longstanding traditions continue at Floyd County Fair
By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Mallory Van Fossen of the 4-H Union Busy Bees, it’s a Floyd County Fair moment she won’t soon forget.
Van Fossen, along with many other equine competitors, braved the muggy and summertime heat on Friday at the Floyd County Fair.
Van Fossen, who will be an eighth-grader this year, was competing in timed horse events in the games portion at the fairgrounds show arena. Contestants try to get quick-time results that can result in a blue ribbon in such classes as keyhole, pole bending, figure 8 and barrels.
To master a blue-ribbon time, horse and rider have to be in unison, in-sync and on top of their game. Knocking over a pole or barrel gets your time docked or can disqualify that entrant.
Van Fossen has been competing at games for three years on three different horses. She was just happy she was able to stay on her mount this year.
Her ride last year didn’t go that smoothly. Riding the appropriately named Buck, the 1,000-plus pound horse threw her from her saddle at last year’s fair.
She fell hard to the ground and slammed into the arena’s soft dirt. She was a little sore, but wasn’t hurt. She scratched the rest of her games competition.
“We got to do junior stake race and we got about five feet past the timer and then he started to buck and I tried to hang on. Then I just got thrown off,” said Van Fossen.
You couldn’t blame Van Fossen for forgoing the rest of her games events on Buck – whom she showed at junior showmanship halter on Wednesday.
“I wasn’t really wanting to get back on that horse,” Van Fossen laughed.
Van Fossen was riding a black, 12-year old gelding named Skipper on Friday. It’s the first year she’s been on Skipper in games. She thought the heat might have played a role in some of their success on such a hot day.
“I thought I did fairly well considering this is the first time showing this horse,” said Van Fossen.
The heat was hard to bear for human and animal alike on this sweltering day.
“I really don’t think Skipper likes it. He’s black and he kind of absorbs it a little bit,” Van Fossen added.
Van Fossen also won grand champion in agility with her dog, Bella, earlier in the week. She also shows another dog named Beau.
Van Fossen, who was at the fair with her grandpa, Ron Lacoste, also likes to trail ride with her family. She said her mom also competed at the local fair.
Grand champion winners on the local level have the option at competing at the Iowa State Fair next month. Van Fossen said she’ll pass on that opportunity.
“I’m fine with my local fair,” said Van Fossen.
Sarah Mitchell, who will be a junior this fall at Charles City High School, continued a tremendous winning tradition for her family on Friday morning. Mitchell again snared grand champion market beef with her steer, Winston.
Mitchell said she has been competing at the Floyd County Fair since the third grade. She said she has taken grand champion market beef three times and two times on the breeding side.
The Mitchell family, who owns and operates Mitchell Family Show Cattle, has won grand champion market beef nine out of the last 10 years at the Floyd County Fair. Sarah has three older brothers who have shared in that honor – Tyler, Zach and Drew.
Sarah also won grand champion market goat. She stays busy and also excels in bowling and volleyball for the Charles City Comets. She said one of the keys to winning grand champion is to put in the time.
“The main part is working every single day. I’ll take my calves for walks. I’ll wash them. I’ll be out there for at least two hours in the morning and two hours again at night,” said Mitchell.
The livestock auction was held Sunday on the Floyd County Fairgrounds, where prize-winning cattle can be bought and sold.
Mitchell will hold off on that. She’ll compete at the Iowa State Fair in August, where she was third in class market heifer in 2018.
According to the Mitchell Family Show Cattle Facebook page, for 73 consecutive years, there has been a member of the Ray and Leone Mitchell family exhibiting 4-H animals at the Floyd County Fair.
The family believes that continuous string of 4-H participation is a national record for one family.
Ray and Leone Mitchell are Sarah’s great grandparents.