Abby and Megan Hopp did well in the Fillmore County Fair 4-H dairy show and will now take their fair projects to the state fair this Saturday.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Abby and Megan Hopp did well in the Fillmore County Fair 4-H dairy show and will now take their fair projects to the state fair this Saturday. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Abby and Megan Hopp of rural Chatfield want to be in the dairy case.

"She got 16th in the state fair lineup this year. I took her two years ago as a summer yearling, and I got fourth in my class, a blue ribbon," said Abby, the 15-year-old daughter of Doug and Heather Hopp, speaking of her dairy cow, Macy. Her fair project earned the 4-Her a trip to the Minnesota State Fair to participate in the dairy show on Saturday, Aug. 24, and hopefully be named as part of the dairy showcase. That is an honor roll of the top dairy showmen and their cows to which dairy show participants apply.

Abby related that she and her cow are becoming state fair veterans. "I've been to the state fair three times, and I've taken dairy. This will be my fourth year. I'm hoping that she might actually do well and get me a blue ribbon for the showcase, and that she behaves well for judging. The first year, I was nervous because the big coliseum freaks animals out, so I get nervous about how they'll behave."

Abby, who took both cows and pigs to the Fillmore County Fair, has continued to work with Macy since the close of the fair, as she's had to groom and vet the Holstein - Macy calved on July 12, just in time for the county fair, producing a little heifer calf.

"I've been keeping an eye on her udder, making sure she doesn't get sick," Abby shared.

Once preparations are done and the animals are safe in their state fair stalls, Abby particularly enjoys entering the state fair coliseum with her show animals and impressing the judges with her showmanship and knowledge of dairying.

"It's the coliseum...when you walk into the giant show ring and when we walk them at night when it's completely dark outside. We practice outside while everybody else is off at the grandstand, and we take pictures." She pointed out, "The dairy showcase application is challenging, but you try to be as good as you can. It's difficult to get a trip to the state fair. It's a lot of work, but in the end, a lot of fun and worth it."

Though she most enjoys showing her cow and challenging herself to do better, post-show, she'll be found at the frozen ice stand next to the barn, bravely traipsing through the haunted house with her dairy show friends, riding the water raft ride and sitting in the barn and watching the cows.

This year, she'll also wander to the Princess Kay of the Milky Way coronation on Wednesday night to support a friend who is vying for the opportunity to have her likeness carved in butter. "My friend from Winona is in it, so we all have t-shirts for her," Abby said.

Her sister, Megan, 13, who has been a 4-H member since she was a Cloverbud, took two dairy cows and two sheep to the county fair - a winter calf and a 2-year-old senior Holstein. "My calf got a blue ribbon, and I got a state fair trip with my cow, Rosie," Megan explained.

This year's state fair is Megan's first opportunity to show an animal. She's spent her 4-H career working on club projects and her own fair projects - including non-livestock projects such as a child and family development board game that earned grand champion. "This year, I took fine arts and purchased clothing, and I do the fashion revue every year - I really like child and family development. I've always had an interest in those areas. I really was surprised that I won one (state fair trip) with my cow. I was up against a lot of competition, and I don't remember placing, but I got a trip...the 13th out of 14 county trips."

Megan also shared, "I was really excited...there was a girl taking names, and she asked me, 'Are you old enough to go to the state fair, and if you had a trip, would you take it if you got it? You got one!'"

Of course, there's maintaining Rosie's lovely appearance for the upcoming state fair competition, so Megan's up against the fact that cows just don't like to stay too clean for too long. "I have trouble keeping her clean - they like to get dirty a lot," she said.

"I look forward to just being able to be up there at the dairy show," Megan continued. "I haven't been up there before, and I'm hoping for a good experience. I like showing - it's probably the highlight of my week at the county fair."

She did admit to being a bit nervous about showing at the state fair as she has never been in the coliseum.

"I'm nervous about it and wondering if Rosie will behave, because she's kind of a handful," Megan said.

After the suspense of showing is past, Megan will spend her state fair trip walking around with her family, going to the barn, watching the shows, looking at animals, hanging out and seeing what goes on. "I'm really excited about it but nervous about it as well. I just hope it goes well," she concluded.

Oh, and she'll also be at the cookie stand, securing something sweet and making more memories for the ride home, as that's what the state fair is all about.