Past Extension Agents Share Memories of Past Fairs
July 28, 2021 | View PDF
When Fred Barkley and his family arrived in Sidney in 1976, they thought I had found Eden. The town was so clean, with well manicured lawns and parks and the people were so friendly and kind." Barkley said. As the new 4-H agent, Barkley found that the program was well grounded with a strong nucleus of dedicated volunteer leaders.
In his 28 years as 4-H Extension Agent Barkley saw a lot of changes and growth in the 4-H program. The first Fair he took part in had no market livestock sale and the nine steers shown in front of the Horse Motel were sold on a pre-set schedule. Blue ribbons received ten cents over local market price, red ribbons five cents and white ribbons were not sold.
With the help of a number of 4-H leaders who were in the livestock business the auction of market animals began in 1977 with 22 animals after an absence of several years. Names like Denowh, Franz and Dynneson among others, were instrumental in reviving the 4-H Sale. In the '70s and '80s prices picked up during the oil boom with oil companies participating, and a then record 56 steers were sold. But after the boom went bust, the numbers dwindled and an average of 26 animals were sold annually. Hog and sheep numbers also increased during that period and their numbers leveled off.too. Ten and twelve market lambs and five to eight market hogs sold yearly.
The success of the Livestock Sale was also due in large part to some dedicated 4-H Livestock Committee Chairmen. Doug Hall held that position for12 years and strongly supported the Steer of Merit Program and met with buyers throughout the year to get their ideas on how the sale could improve.
The 4-H Food Booth was also a favorite of Barkley's. "It was a lot of work, but it was a gathering the place for so many people who became lifelong friends," Barkley said.
In 1978, the annual 4-H Fruit Sale began as a fundraiser that provided funds to offer more opportunities for members and leaders alike. "It made us financially self-sufficient, and that was always gratifying," Barkley added. The money was used for camps, State Congress for senior members, an annual special trip for junior members, and to sponsor members and leaders on state and national trips, among other things.
Looking back on his 28 years, Barkley said he wouldn't change a thing. "I made some lifelong friends and have some third generation 4-Hers now in the program." He's also proud of the impact the speech and demonstration programs had on 4-Hers. "I can't tell you how many times i had teachers tell me they could identify the 4-H members in their class because they were the ones who could express themselves well."
Barkley said he is glad to see the 4-H program continues to be strong in Richland County. "It's one of the best organizations for young people and adults alike and has a proven track record."
In his 25 years as Richland County extension agent, Red Lovec has seen a lot of changes at the fair. At one time there was an open class division for livestock which was open to purebred cows and calf-pairs. The 4-H kids now offer those animals.
He was also involved in horticulture which encompassed the seed pictures from the surrounding communities. The original communities were Fairview, Savage Crane, Elmdale, Lambert, East Side, Mona, and Grand View. Today, the communities still involved are Sidney/Crane, Fairview, Savage and Ridgelawn,
Lovec was also involved in judging at surrounding fairs. He judged horticulture, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, rabbits, chicken and turkeys. "I didn't do beef I called them the BS judges because they rated their steers better than the ones they were judging. That's what made them good judges." In one year Lovec went to 17 different fairs.
During his tenure in the extension he concentrated on weeds and weed control in crops. He was involved in the weed program statewide and president of the Montana Weed Control Association which is still active today. They spent summers roadside spraying and focused on educational things in the winter.
He also is involved in the Mon-Dak Sheep Association and the Lower Yellowstone Wool Pool.
He was involved with Crops and Soil Days, Stock Feeder Tours, Sidney Feeder Tour/Fairview Feeder Tour. They were all combined, which is now called MonDak Ag Days. He helped organize the field days at the Eastern Agriculture Experiment Station.
The experiment stations started Field Days to promote ag production. He worked on the concept of having the MSU Extension Office and the MSU Research offices at the same locations. It did happen but not until he retired.
Lovec spends his retirement as a Montana Seed Growers Association certified seed inspector. He covers Dawson, Richland, Roosevelt, Wibaux, Daniels and Sheridan counties. He also helps the experiment station with sugar beet harvest.
"Ag research and sprinkler irrigation has really helped the farmers stay in business," he sums up.
Wade Whiteman is a great example of what 4-H can do for young kids. Born on a farm in Richey, participating in 4-H throughout his young life, and staying in agriculture, earning a degree in animal science from MSU-Bozeman. After graduating from MSU-he went back to the farm until Fred Barkley retired and the opportunity to become Richland County extension agent became available. In 2010, he became an ag lender at Stockman Bank moving on to ag manager in 2016 to his current job as Stockman Bank president in 2021.
"I really enjoyed 4-H camp in the summer getting to spend a week at Fort Peck," he says with a smile.
During the time he was extension agent, he oversaw 4-H and livestock. He also spearheaded a weather monitoring program with the Richland County Conservation District with help from the county commissioners.
Every year for the fair we set up boxes for each day (Monday-Sunday) of the fair, gathering up items we needed to take out to the fair to cut down on the number of trips back and forth.
"The administrative assistant is very important helping with the many duties of the extension, especially at fair time, he states.
"I am the second generation of Whiteman's involved with 4-H and the fair. I am married to Hannah and have two daughters, so you will still see me at the fair for awhile," he quips.