Jacob, Jessica and Noah Fenske show the awards they earned at the Fillmore County Fair. The 4-H members are the children of Mike and Melissa Fenske of Utica.   GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Jacob, Jessica and Noah Fenske show the awards they earned at the Fillmore County Fair. The 4-H members are the children of Mike and Melissa Fenske of Utica. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Noah, Jessica and Jacob Fenske are working on their pig concentration.

They'll have a swine time at the state fair.

"We mainly concentrate on pigs - we usually take them to the state fair," said 15-year-old Jessica who, along with her brothers, will show a pig at the Minnesota State Fair as they, children of Mike and Melissa Fenske of Utica, have done for the past several years when they've placed at the county fair.

She related, "This is our fourth year doing swine - before that, it's been mainly poultry, which we started out doing. Each of us took four pigs, and I took six chickens and two turkeys, but I like being able to watch a pig progress. When it comes time to show them, it all comes down to the hard work, the feeling before the show. Fillmore's fair is so small that you know everybody and they're your friends, so you don't worry about it because it's about having fun."

The Fenskes usually get their show pigs in March and work with them throughout the spring and summer.

Noah stated, "We've got some really nice pigs this year - they're bred for show and have a better build and behave better than commercial pigs - swine breeding gilts to show. It's fun, stressful in some spots to show them, but overall, it's fun to do...going into the ring and getting ribbons. Mine got reserve champion gilt lean gain per day."

Jacob, 13, added that his pig got first place and a state fair trip. "I like to show pigs because it's easier than showing turkeys."

All three have been members of the Root River Rabbits 4-H Club since they were young, and none can imagine a summer without going to the fair.

Noah's non-livestock projects have included shop, exploring the environment and poster board. "I've been in shop every year I've done the fair, but this is the first time I've done poster board at the fair, and the first time I'm going to state with shop," Noah said.

His sister has done poster board, exploring animals, biology, fine arts and photography, and this year, Jessica has earned a cooperative award with fellow club member Abby Hopp.

Jacob's projects have included shop and photography.

They anticipate stepping into the show ring with their pigs and doing their best to highlight the animals' lean lines and good behavior, and after, they each have plans to wander the fair.

Noah said, "My favorite . . . I think it would be showing, hearing my class get called into the ring, everybody walking around paying attention to the judges. I like to walk around the fair a lot. Last year, my dad and I sat down and watched people for a while because we're there all week and they're in a hurry to see things. It's fun to walk around. My dad seems to know where everything is."

Jessica looks forward to the fair because she really enjoys it. "It seems like we put a lot of time into 4-H, but the fair is our family vacation...it's just a lot of fun."