After a long career as a junior exhibitor at the Kenosha County Fair, Grace Hipper will make a rather abbreviated appearance at this year’s event.
Grace, 18, will show her Cocker Spaniel, Zaddie, in the county fair’s dog show on Aug. 16, but forego other entries to participate in the State 4-H Dog Show, scheduled for Aug. 18-20 in Tomah.
“The dog project has been a big part of me for a long time,” Grace said. “It’s taught me a lot. You can train your dog all year and your dog knows every exercise it is supposed to do, but when you get to the fair, they don’t always do what you want them to. Some days they just decide to be a dog.
“The dog project has built my character more than any other project. It’s an area where I’ve had the most struggles. But whether you win or lose, when you leave that day if you still love your dog, nothing else matters.”
Zaddie is an 8-year-old Cocker Spaniel that originally was supposed to be Grace’s sister’s dog. But over time Grace started training the dog and it became her show-mate.
“She tests me sometimes, but she’s definitely worth it,” Grace said of Zaddie.
Over the years Grace has shown horses, pigs, rabbits, photography, arts and crafts and participated in cake decorating at the Kenosha County Fair. She and her family live on an acre of land near Pleasant Prairie, so the horse and pigs were boarded on neighboring properties.
She has also been involved in the 4-H fishing project that her parents, Sally and Glen Hipper, lead for the local 4-H club.
“You don’t see too many fishing projects in the 4-H — there should be more of them,” Sally said. “We try to educate the members on everything from how to tie your bait to how to make spinner bait to how to catch a fish. We’ve taken the kids to the Shedd Aquarium (in Chicago) and have two major fishing outings each year. We just have a blast with it.”
A casting contest is conducted at the county fair each year whereby participants earn points for casting distance and accuracy.
“We have huge traveling trophies that are given out for junior and senior participants, and they also get a permanent trophy to keep,” Sally said. “The kids really look forward to that.”
Grace is looking forward to the state dog show, where she will enter Zaddie in several obedience competitions and also enter a photo of her dog and a poem she wrote about the animal.
After graduating from high school, Grace took a job at a “doggy day care” and will continue in that position through the rest of 2017.
“I get to play with dogs all day and then come home and play with my own,” she said. “I’ll basically finish up 4-H and then next year figure out what’s ahead of me.”
Grace is also a county 4-H ambassador, one of the older 4-H members who works with Cloverbuds and other young 4-H members throughout the county.
“We have monthly meetings for the Cloverbuds in the winter — first- through third-graders,” Grace said. “We teach them crafts or play games with them. During the fair, we sit down with the kids one-on-one and judge the projects they bring. We ask them simple questions about their projects and they all get a big green ribbon.
“I remember the first time I was one-on-one with a judge, I was really tense. You basically want the kids to be comfortable with you. It’s a start for them.”
If you go
What: Kenosha County Fair.
When: Aug. 16-20.
Where: Kenosha County Fairground, 30820 111th St., Wilmot.
Information: 262-862-6121 or email@example.com.