FARMER OLYMPICS: 4-H team competition brings farm-themed relays to county fair

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4-H farmers take part in the Farmer Olympics on Friday at the Hancock County Fair. Contestants were grouped in team competition. Different events such as egg racing, sheep shaving with shaving cream, bale tossing and seed sack racing were some of the different skills they had to tackle. Friday, June 21, 2024.

Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

HANCOCK COUNTY – With the start of the Summer Olympics just five weeks away, Friday was a fitting time to introduce a new event called the Farmer Olympics at this year’s Hancock County 4-H Fair.

Sponsored by Hancock County Farm Bureau, the event challenged 4-Hers of all ages to compete in a number of farm-themed relays, from tossing straw bales to “sheering” a cardboard sheep covered in shaving cream.

About 60 kids on 15 different teams participated in the fun-filled contest in the fairgrounds’ show arena starting at noon.

Erin Harmon got a kick out of watching her son Reed and his friends, all incoming fifth graders at Eastern Hancock Elementary School.

“I think it’s fun. The kids were looking forward to something fun to do while they’re here (at the fairgrounds) taking care of their animals,” said Harmon, who lives in Shirley.

Her son’s buddies T.J. Manship and Levi Zapf each lost a shoe in the sack race, in which team members took turns hopping from one side of the show ring to another, with both feet planted inside a sack.

“It wasn’t a good day to wear Crocs,” said 10-year-old Levi, who had to retrieve his slip-on shoe from the bag before handing it to the next teammate in line during the race.

The Olympians shook off the heat and humidity to enjoy some casual competition with friends.

“I think it went well for the first year,” said Danielle Nylund, a Farm Bureau board member who led Friday’s event.

As the company’s Young Farmer Coordinator, it’s her job to get kids engaged with both the fun and serious sides of farming.

Friday’s Olympics definitely fell in the prior category, with kids racing to “shear” a sheep’s wool made of shaving cream and speed-walking the width of the show ring while balancing an egg on a spoon.

Nylund said the event was all about having fun and building friendships during some rare downtime at the fair.

“We just really wanted to continue to amplify camaraderie among 4-H members because that’s what families keep coming back to 4-H for – the camaraderie among family and friends – so we wanted a way for them to have fun hanging out together,” she said.

Teams consisted of siblings, cousins, classmates and friends, ranging in age from 5 to 18.

One team consisted of this year’s 4-Fair queen and her court, all sporting bright pink-shirts.

In the end, a team of siblings called Bishop Fam – Brynne, Emory and Everett – took first place by accumulating the most points in all events.

Second place went to the Cousin Crew, consisting of Jake Musselman, Jason Musselman, Jaksen Cain and Brody Cain, while the Dazzle Darlings took third place. That team included Kendyl Hill, Kiersten Judd, Delaineu Reeves and Lanee Swinden.

Each participant in the Farmer Olympics got a cup of candy and coupons to the Dairy Barn at the fairgrounds while each winning team member received $25 cash from Hancock County Farm Bureau.

After the Olympics, participants as well as all 4-Hers on the fairgrounds were invited to an ice cream social hosted by the Hancock County 4-H Ag Association.