Tag Archives: 4-H

Nebraska State Fair has announced this year’s Celebration Parade Grand Marshals. 

The Grand Marshal Program honors individuals who have made significant contributions within their county fair communities. As a salute to those who serve our country, an active member of the military has been chosen to help salute our veterans on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 2.

Among the grand marshals is Jerry Fitzgerald of Gering. He has served on the State Fair Board for many years and was a key player in moving the State Fair from Lincoln to Grand Island.

“I was involved in all those meetings and then was involved closely in the design of those buildings,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of people didn’t think we should move and I hated to move because of the history of the old site, but it was certainly the thing to do, it created a new vibe and is a positive.”

In 2013, Fitzgerald was recognized as a Friend of 4-H. He is very proud of the distinction and proud to have years of volunteering.

“Fairs have been good to me and my family,” he said. “The fair situation has been good to me, my family, my grandchildren. So, we’ve been participants for years. I’ve judged fairs in 34 states and two countries.” 

He said the greatest thing about fairs, 4-H and FFA is the responsibility the youth learn, and it is an excellent opportunity to work together as a family.

Fitzgerald was also involved in the design and building of the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds Livestock Pavilion, which houses the livestock shows and sale. 

Fitzgerald will be Grand Marshal for the Saturday, Aug. 24, parade. 

“Each year, we select individuals who represent what it means to be dedicated to agriculture and their community,” said Chelsey Jungck, State Fair chief of events and entertainment. “These individuals continually go above and beyond and are worthy of our appreciation and distinction.”

Following is a list of the other grand marshals:

Aug. 25: Jimmy Marak, Osceola

Jimmy served on the Polk County Agricultural Society for more than 45 years. He was instrumental in building Ag Hall, Pinnacle Show Arena as well as the replacement of the grandstand bleachers at Nebraska State Fair. He has been a 4-H leader and the leader of the local Saddle Club. The Saddle Club was active in organizing and competing in local horse shows and rodeos, as well as providing entertainment for area parades.

Aug. 26: Brian and Ann Marie Bosshamer, Amherst

Brian was an extension educator for Buffalo County and the leader of the 4-H program in Amherst, Neb. for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in implementing Lamb Camp, Life on the Farm, and the Lottery Pig Show. Ann Marie coordinated and announced at the Market and Class Shows for the Buffalo County Fair. The Bosshamers are involved with the 4-H sale committee at Nebraska State Fair as well as the Cattlemen’s Classic and Gateway Farm Expo. 

Aug. 27: Jon and DeAnn Epley, Fullerton

DeAnn was the office manager for the Nance County Extension for more than 35 years. Jon was instrumental in the development of the Shooting Sports Program for the Nance County community. Over the years, Jon and DeAnn have volunteered numerous hours helping with 4-H and the food stand at the Nance County Fair. In addition to their work with 4-H, the Epleys were founding members of the Nance County Veterans Memorial and Museum. 

Aug. 28: Jess and Marilyn Johnson, Lincoln

For the past 39 years, Jess and Marilyn Johnson have coordinated all supply requirements for the many competitive and livestock disciplines at Nebraska State Fair. Also, Marilyn has volunteered to help at the Lancaster County Fair for at least one day each year and continues to volunteer wherever help is needed to promote educational and agricultural programs in Lancaster County.

Aug 29: Oliver and Marjorie Johnson, Clarkson

Oliver has served on the Colfax County Ag Society for more than 20 years. He is a former 4-H leader and fair superintendent. Marjorie assists in the Open Class areas of the Colfax County Fair. The Johnsons are past Pioneer Farm Family Award recipients. They were members of the Clarkson Czech Dancers for almost 50 years, performing at the annual Clarkson Czech Day and other Czech celebrations.  

Aug. 30: Richard and Marlene Hermelbracht, Bancroft, and Art and Arlene Rolf, West Point

Richard Hermelbracht has been involved with the county fair throughout his life. He has served on the Cuming County Ag Society for the past 41 years. For the past 41 years, Richard has been the person to open the gates of the Cuming County Fair at 6 a.m. He and Marlene hire and oversee the gate personnel for the fair. Richard is a veteran and Marlene is active in the American Legion Auxiliary. 

Arlene Rolf served as the secretary of the Cuming County Ag Society for 40 years. Arlene was instrumental in the development of the Cuming County Fair Sponsorship Program which has grown from five sponsors to over 100. Arlene is a member of the Cuming County Fair Foundation Board, which helps promote and raise monies for capital improvements.

Art Rolf is an integral part of the daily operations of the Cuming County Fair and helps coordinate the setup and cleanup of the fair. During the fair, Art can be found from open to close at the front gate, taking admission and greeting everyone with a smile. 

Aug. 31: Steve and Jana Kruger, Arlington

Steve and Jana have served as horticulture superintendents at the Washington County Fair and Nebraska State Fair for 28 years. Steve has served on the State Fair board for 22 years, 14 of which were as president, and served more than 22 years on the State Fair Board. Jana served nine years on the State Fair Board, four of them as president. They originated the concept of the Grand Marshal Program at Nebraska State Fair. 

Sept. 1: Jim and Sharon Specht, Hartington

Jim has served on the Cedar County Fair Board for more than 24 years and is currently the vice president of the Cedar County Ag Society. For the past six years, Sharon has been chairman of the Cedar County Open Class Division and the county fair pie contest. Both Jim and Sharon spend countless hours before the opening of the fair cleaning the barns, setting up rodeo equipment and printing premium books for the open class exhibits. In 2017 Jim was selected for the NAFM’s Fair Person of the Year award. This past year, Sharon was selected as Cedar County Ag Society’s Outstanding Volunteer.

Sept. 2: Major General Daryl Bohac, Lincoln

Major General Daryl L. Bohac serves as the Adjutant General, Nebraska National Guard in Lincoln, Neb. He is the senior uniformed National Guard officer responsible for formulating, developing and coordinating policies, programs, and plans impacting nearly 5,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel. He serves on the Governor’s staff and is the Director of the Nebraska Military Department and the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, respectively and serves as the state’s official channel of communication with the National Guard Bureau to the Departments of the Army and Air Force.

 

With summer upon us, many families look forward to a chance to explore America with vacations, stops at local community festivals and the great tradition of county fairs. My family has a passion for fairs and we also have a very competitive nature. Nothing brings that trait to the surface more than the opportunity to enter a variety of projects or hobbies in contests at the local fair. As exhibitors we also have a responsibility to share what we have learned with the judges, our neighbors and the visiting public.

County fairs allow everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents and passion by exhibiting in a competitive, but friendly atmosphere. Exhibits are as varied as the county or state and its culture – from baking, clothing and pickling to art, engines and amazing technology – in addition to the skill and training required to show a variety of livestock species on the end of a lead rope or halter.

County fairs started as purely agriculturally based exhibits to determine who had the best livestock or crops. Since those early fairs, the tradition of improvement has been continued by dedicated volunteers who serve on fair boards and plan new events and attractions to keep the venue interesting to all ages. Over time, competitive events started to include youth, first through the 4-H program and later, FFA. Entertainment stages, horse races, tractor-pulling competitions, sheep shearing, home improvement booths and food stands where entrepreneurs engage with foodies offer something for everyone. All ages can truly enjoy the county fair.

My family has been actively involved at our county and state fair throughout the summer for more than three decades. Our children and grandchildren have competed in both 4-H and FFA youth shows and we have exhibited in open classes as adults. We’ve also served as judges and are actively involved as volunteers for the local agricultural society that governs our county fair. The passion and enthusiasm we share with other fair volunteers is truly gratifying.

The family tradition continues, as our children have all become 4-H adult leaders, with their children exhibiting at local county fairs as well as other competitive events. At the county fair, young people learn the rewards of putting in time and effort to showcase their passions, whether that is artistic skills or exhibiting livestock.

When each show day is done, we often visit with fair attendees and neighbors, sometimes meeting with elected leaders as they shake hands in a family atmosphere close to home. This type of fellowship, shared with community members of all ages and walks of life, is rare in today’s society but often found at a county fair.

In recognition of state and county fairs as annual events that families and communities anticipate with enthusiasm, the United States Post Office created a forever stamp (available starting Thursday, July 25). The USPS hits the mark by noting that “State and county fairs provide social and educational value with opportunities to learn, teach, socialize and have fun.”

So, what are you waiting for? Celebrate the fun of America’s state and county fairs with a forever stamp. And make plans to check out your county fair – the smiles on your neighbor’s faces as they welcome you at the gate, the 4-H member who clears your plate at the food stand and the dairy farmer who serves up real ice cream at the all-you-can-eat stand. Enjoy real Americana and the tradition of your county or state fair this year!