Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick
The Clark County Fair is July 23-30 in Springfield. The following is a story about a South Charleston area family for whom the fair is a longstanding tradition.
Its not hard to guess the Eriksen family is a farm kind of family. The first clue is their driveway, which winds a third of a mile back through a tunnel of corn in the Clark County countryside.
Just like the corn grows up around them, three generations of the family have grown up around 4-H, farming, and livestock shows. This year, as in years past, theyll spend their vacation in a camper at the Clark County Fair.
Wade, 7, is the youngest and shyest of the bunch. For him, the challenge is keeping the pigs from running out of the show ring.
Tucker, 8, loves farming with his grandfather. He said hes been doing it ever since he was alittle kid.
Katie Grace, 11, is the animal whisperer. Shes never met a creature with whom she didnt get along.
Hayden, 15, has added other teenage pursuits, like school sports, to his plate in the last couple of years, but still manages to gobble up awards for his livestock.
In fact, all four of the Eriksen children are highly decorated showmen. All show hogs and/or sheep in open class events in and around Ohio. The two oldest also compete in 4-H events.
The foursome has the two generations before them to thank for setting the example.
“I was in 4-H from the time I was in third grade, said Christy Eriksen, originally from London, where her parents, Peg and Ben Wildman, got her started in livestock shows. Peg herself had been a 4-Her in London, showing rabbits and horses. The family later moved to Clark County.
Christy won the Clark County Lamb and Wool Queen title in the late 1980s, and in 1991, garnered a record bid at auction for her 130-lb. champion market lamb. That record—$33 per pound—still stands today.
But its not all about awards for this family; its also about passing on a knowledge of and passion for an agricultural way of life.
“Raising sheep and pigs is a year-round thing for our kids. They get to see the whole process on how to produce quality livestock, Christy said.Theyve learned responsibility and work ethic. Its a team effort, especially in this household.
The 4-H and fair experience adds another layer to that foundation, one that Peg finds so worthwhile that she does what she can to get other young people excited about 4-H.
“My kids and grandkids have benefited from 4-H, so we try to put something back into it, said Peg, who served many years as an advisor for the Nuttin But Mutton 4-H Club and now assists Christy and her husband, Hans, in advising Guys & Dolls, one of the longest running 4-H clubs in Clark County.
Peg also is a member of the Clark County 4-H Sheep Committee. She and Ben raise and sell 4-H lambs and sponsor the homegrown market lamb class at the fair.
Christy and Hans raise and sell 4-H pigs. Additionally, Hans, who grew up a city boy in Columbus and picked up on the farming vibe from relatives, hosts a pork quality assurance class every year, open to any local poultry exhibitor.
From amidst the cornstalks, the Eriksens and Wildmans live an ag-centric life that starts at home and branches out from there.
For information about this years Clark County Fair, go to http://clarkcountyfair.org or call (937) 323-3090.