By Elizabeth Sias
The Isanti County Fair is here, which means the children and teens in 4-H are hard at work on their livestock projects.
Most of them have one goal in mind: earn a Blue Ribbon, and with it, sometimes a trip to the Minnesota State Fair at the end of the summer.
With a blue ribbon or title of Grand Champion comes the opportunity to put their animal in the Isanti County Premium Auction, which this year takes place July 23 at 5:30 p.m. on the fairgrounds in the East Show Arena, behind the poultry and swine barn.
Last year, over 350 kids and teens from kindergarten through first-year college students participated, showing animals in categories including beef, dairy, sheep, poultry, swine, rabbit and goat. For the first time this year, the fair will have a category for alpacas.
Judges may award blue ribbons to any project that meets or exceeds all of the competition’s judging criteria, said Interim Isanti County 4-H Program Coordinator Tiffany Johnson.
In the auction, families and local businesses are invited to purchase the animals as a way to say ‘thank you’ to 4-H. If they don’t want to purchase the animal for meat, they can buy the ribbon to support 4-H, and someone else can buy the meat at the current assessed market value of that day, Johnson said.
She said 20 percent of the money from the auction benefits 4-H, some used to help with the cost of the auction, and some for livestock projects, maintenance on the 4-H barns or for education purposes.
For her fourth year entering the competition, 12-year-old Chelsea Collins is showing three pigs and an alpaca. She’s had animals in the auction every year, usually getting around $200 for each pig. And now that she’s in sixth grade, she’s eligible for a trip to the State Fair.
“I like going to the fair and learning more about animals,” she said. “My goal is to have fun and go to the State Fair.”