Tyler Kappers' cow, Coke, is what he's pinning his Fillmore County Fair 4-H hopes on this year.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Tyler Kappers' cow, Coke, is what he's pinning his Fillmore County Fair 4-H hopes on this year. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
Tyler Kappers's Coke is a three-gallon dairy.

"I bought her two years ago, and I also showed her last year," said Bloomfield Cloverleaves 4-H Club member Kappers, scrubbing down his red and white Holstein, Coke, as he prepared her for another day on the farm, with just weeks left before the Fillmore County Fair.

This will be his second year showing Coke, but she got third in class at the county fair "because she was still kind of small," and she also got third in class at the state fair, said Kappers, the son of Jim and Janet Kappers. "My family had cows until I was about 6 years old, and then they sold out, and three years ago, my brother bought some dairy cows. I've taken cows to the fair since I was little."

He always has two sheep every year that he gets in the spring and sells at the end of the fair. He's taken cows, sheep, grains - corn, soybeans and oats - photography, and veterinary sciences projects. The last two years, he's gotten grand champion for his veterinary sciences projects.

He especially likes taking care of his cow, though. "I usually break calves for lead, spend an hour a day with them; put in a fair amount of time. Before the fair, I get them washed and clipped. There's a lot of time and effort in getting them ready to go. My favorite part is the bond that you form with an animal. They become your best friend over the summer. You miss them at the end of the season, but you get to see your hard work."

Though he golfs on the Kingsland boys' golf team and is a member of Kingsland's FFA, Kappers enjoys participating in 4-H because it affords him unique opportunities. "My whole summer is spent in the barn. FFA gives me opportunities to go on tours, but 4-H also gives me a chance to meet people. A lot of my friends show through 4-H, and it's a lot of work, but at the end, you might get to win a trip to the state fair, which is really fun. 4-H has given me a lot of different leadership skills that I can take to school and FFA, opportunities to meet kids I might never meet otherwise but who are my best friends. It's also given me public speaking opportunities. I like the experiences and memories that I get from going to the county fair, state fair and other activities through 4-H. I'm hoping to get another trip to the state fair with this cow, because they just made red and whites a separate breed. If I win, I can make more memories."

He encouraged fair visitors to stop in the barn and ask questions. "Come down to the fair, see our projects, our animals, and don't be afraid to ask us questions," he concluded.

Editor's note: This is the last in a weekly series of three articles highlighting preparations by area families for the Fillmore County Fair.