For her, the show will go on

While there will be no County Fair for most people this year, Alexis Kurlinski and other 4-H members are happy to have the opportunity to show their magnificent animals

LEANING ON HER steer Keyser at her family’s Town of Saukville farm last week, Alexis Kurlinski, a senior at Ozaukee High School, said she is happy to have another opportunity to show animals at the Ozaukee County Fair. Although the fair has essentially been canceled because of the pandemic, 4-H members will be able to exhibit their animals and projects at the fairgrounds in Cedarburg. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

For most area residents, there will be no Ozaukee County Fair this year. No funnel cake, no cream puffs, no amusement rides and no truck pull or demolition derby. 

But Alexis Kurlinski’s fair experience will be just as it has been for the past decade, although in a reduced form.

“I’m just happy that I’m able to show. I’m grateful for that,” the 17-year-old said while standing in the lot of her family farm on Willow Road in the Town of Saukville, gripping a rope to which her steer Keyser was tethered. 

All activities for the fair, which began Wednesday and runs through Sunday, were shut down this year due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, except for 4-H showings and exhibits. The public will not be allowed at the fairgrounds in Cedarburg except for those involved in the 4-H activities.

But even those will be greatly reduced as much of the judging will be done remotely, cutting down on much of the interaction between 4-H exhibitors and judges, which participants say they highly value.

Alexis, for instance, has worked since last year’s fair preparing to show her horse, goats and long list of other projects, including candymaking, ceramics, photography, and drawing.

But Keyser will be the only project Alexis will have on display this year.

Neither of her two siblings — Paige, 13, Addison, 9 — will have any projects on display this year.

“The kids like to show people what they’ve done,” their mother Amanda said “It’s always been kind of a reward at the end of the year.”

But the on-and-off process of whether the fair would be held, followed by the decision to alter the judging process, dampened her childrens’ spirits a bit, she said, despite the fact their father, Brian, is on the Fair Board, which operates the fair. 

“My kids enjoy being able to sit down with an adult who is interested in what they’re doing and who can give them advice on what they’re doing,” Amanda said.

There will be in-person judging for the market steer class, but social distancing and other precautions will be in place.

“When you are showing, you are pretty much socially distanced anyway because you have that six-foot cow between you and the other person,” Amanda said.

Showings were scheduled to begin Thursday morning, with animal auctions set to begin Thursday night.

Alexis, a senior at Ozaukee High School, won a first-place showmanship award when she was 14 and last year won second place in her market steer weight class. 

“I hope to do better than last year,” she said.

Showing Keyser represents a significant investment of time and money by Alexis and her family.

Keyser was purchased from a breeder near Beaver Dam last fall and every day since, morning and evening, Alexis has fed him grain, hay and fresh water and walked him.

“He’s one of the family,” she said.

More than that, Keyser and her other animals are a walking laboratory that she hopes will lead to a career as a veterinary technician, she said.

“I work with him and manage him and treat him,” she said

For the length of the fair, she will be at the fairgrounds from sunrise to long after dark, she said.

She’s already looking forward to next year, which will be her last in 4-H.

“Next year, we’re hopefully bringing another steer and I’d like to bring a heifer. A horse will come down (to the fair); goats will come down,” she said. “I put a lot of work into those.”

Her mother said she hopes the family can fully experience the fair again next year.

“The fair is our summer vacation every year. We look forward to it every year,” she said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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