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Jepma girls are ready for the fair

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HANCOCK, Minn. -- If you walk through the barns at the Stevens County Fair next week and see unique names for some of the animals, you could blame Google. Brooke and Katelynn Jepma will be entering projects at the fair and have used the Google site called "names for pigs" to try to find the perfect name for their fair projects. As of yet, they had not quite made up their minds about those names.

Brooke and Katelynn (Katie) are the daughters of Dennis and Carrie Jepma of Hancock and in their third year as members of the Hodges 4-H Club. Brooke will be going into ninth grade next year at Hancock High School and Katie will be entering 7th grade.

This will be their third year for taking pigs to the fair and Brooke's second year for cattle. Katie will be entering her first cattle project this year. Both girls will be taking a calf and two pigs to the fair.

At the fair last year, one of Katie's pigs was selected as the grand champion and the other placed third. However, as a sixth grader, she was too young to go to the state fair. She hopes to do as well this year and be able to finally make the trip to the state fair.

The pigs and calves were born several months ago but the girls started working with them over the summer. The calves, born in April, are still quite young but they will need to be led and groomed to get them ready for the fair.

The pigs will take a little more work. They also need to learn how to be led around the show ring and the girls will wash them and work with them to familiarize the animals with the show ring preparations.

Since the girls live in town, they have been relying on friends to help them with the projects. The Randy and Lynn Reese family not only house the animals but help educate and guide them on raising and showing both swine and beef projects.

Dylan, Ali and Tyler Reese have been very helpful as older club members and experienced showmen. They, and their brothers Cole and Connor, have directed the girls to always watch the judge, keep the animals moving and try to hold on to the calves even if they are running. They have also helped them with the grooming methods and how to keep the pen areas clean.

Brooke and Katie really enjoy their days at the fair, spending time with fellow 4-Hers and making new friends. Last year, Brooke had a unique initiation into the 4-H scene when Dylan carried her to the water tank and promptly dropped her in.

The girls each have one other project other than animals. Brooke has a cooking project and will be entering 'Kevin Worner's Special Chocolate Chip Cookies' and Katie is taking a Corn Cob Lantern for her craft project. They added that their parents have been very helpful with all of their projects and throughout the year in 4-H.

Other than the county fair, Brooke and Katie help with many 4-H events. They help with the Easter Egg Hunt, cleaning ditching, working at the Tractor Pull and county fair food stands and talk to students in classrooms about 4-H. This past year, Katie attended a camp which took the group to the Cities, where they heard several famous speakers. They both said that their favorite non-fair activity is ditch cleaning because last year they found money in the garbage discarded.

This week will be a busy time for area 4-Hers as they prepare projects for the Stevens County Fair. Brooke and Katie are looking forward to another fun and exciting weekend and especially to the judging process. However, they added that one of the parts is being able to sell their ribbons and animals and spend the profits from the projects.

They are excited for the fair to begin and to show their projects. They are also looking forward to the rides and other great things that take place at the fair. Of course, getting a little taste of farm life at the fair is fun too.