Abby Hopp did well at the Minnesota State Fair with her cow, Macy.  GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Abby Hopp did well at the Minnesota State Fair with her cow, Macy. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Abby Hopp's cow is classy.

So classy, in fact, that they're in the moo showcase.

"I got second place with my cow in 4-H total merit and I was a finalist with my cow in net merit. I was also 25th in the dairy showcase," said Root River Rabbits 4-H Club member Abby, who is the daughter of Doug and Heather Hopp. The family lives on the Rahn Sass farm outside of Chatfield and consists of four avid 4-Hers.

Abby, 15, described the dairy showcase as an event that honors the top 25 dairy students in the state of Minnesota based on how well they did in judging, quizzing and interviews.

"You have to get a blue or purple (ribbon) with your animal," she said. "It's something you have to apply for, and it's for dairy kids because you can't sell your animal at the end of the fair."

Abby has been grooming her favorite cow from the Sass barn, Macy, for this year's county and state fairs since late last winter.

"She's very good. She's probably the best cow I've ever taken," Abby said. "She leads the best she can, and she's a good showmanship cow. She's a super sweet cow. She likes to rub her head up against you. I wanted to her to do well, so I had to make sure she had enough milk - I had to figure out how many hours between milking, and in a stanchion barn, that's not all easy."

Early morning show lead training and practice all summer promised a good state fair showing, or at least, a good educational experience. The commotion surrounding Macy in the state fair showing arena was troublesome because even though the 4-Her had been to the state fair coliseum before, the cow wasn't quite as confident about being there as Abby was.

"I've done it for three years, and this was my fourth year showing in the coliseum," Abby shared. "My cow was ornery, so my focus was to try to keep her calmed down, but in dairy, there were four separate rings in my age division, and they pick the three top from each grade division and send them to the final round. We all want to be in the final ring."

The Chatfield High School student had high hopes, but certainly was surprised when she reached and exceeded some of her state fair goals.

"I did well...almost better. I was expecting to get a blue ribbon, and I got a purple," she said proudly. "I wasn't expecting to win the judging. I didn't do good in showmanship, but I got in the showcase."

She and fellow 4-H member Jessica Fenske received a blue ribbon on their youth leadership project as well. "We were hoping for a purple, but there were recommendations the judges made for next year," Abby conceded. "We took project pointers. They really liked our project, so we will continue next year, maybe not at the state fair, but we'll take it to the county fair, hopefully."

Further lessons were found in accompanying her younger sister, Megan, at the fair. "My sister went to the state fair for the first time, so I had to learn more patience."

During her 4-H endeavors, Abby got to explore the state fairgrounds. "I just enjoyed being there with friends. We do a lot all week long, not just showing," she said. "We had a lot of fun in that aspect. We went to the Princess Kay butter booth, and my friend Ann Orth from Winona didn't get Princess Kay, but we cheered her on, at least. The haunted house is an annual thing - we go touring."

In fact, Abby was wandering the fairgrounds with friends when she got the news that she was the 25th finalist in the state fair dairy showcase and shared that the Fillmore County dairy judging team won its competition and would be proceeding to an expo in Harris at the end of September.

The 4-H trip wasn't the only trip she made to the state fair this year - she joined FFA advisor Stacy Fritz's delegation of FFAers showing animals at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

"For FFA, I took three pigs - they were breeding gilts, a cow and two heifers," Abby said. "They did pretty well. I got first place with my cow, and fifth with my heifers, third and sixth with my pigs."

Abby has plans for the coming fair season next summer, specifically, improving her showing skills and her cows' leading skills so that her standing in the dairy showcase is much higher.

"I want to do as well as or improve as much as I can, work with my animal more because everything you do is for the showcase," she said. "We have good heifers. This year, they'll be good cows. I can't guarantee how they'll look, but I have gotten a plaque for them."

Furthermore, she aspires to do the entire Minnesota State Fair, from day one to Labor Day. "I'm going to apply to work at the Miracle of Birth Center and stay all 12 days at the state fair by the time I graduate from 4-H," Abby concluded.