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4-H'ers go before the judges ahead of Kandiyohi County, Minn., fair

Teryl Rusch, left, discusses a project Tuesday with Katherine Dimler, 10, of Willmar. Katherine and her sister Kristen, 11, not pictured, were entering the 4-H constructed garments category. The projects are on display for viewing today at the county fair. Tribune photos by Gary Miller

WILLMAR -- Chaos filled the Kandiyohi County Fairgrounds as vendors, livestock and carnival rides arrived Tuesday, but youth inside the 4-H building were concerned about just one thing: conference judging.

Doors open for the annual Kandiyohi County Fair at 8 a.m. today, but all of the 4-H project judging is complete.

Ranging in age from 5 to 19, youth were excited to show their projects, everything from clothing and textiles to food preservation and forestry.

"I'm nervous," Kristen Dimler, 11, said as she waited for her constructed garments and purchased garment to be judged.

She held a bright pink tiered skirt and a matching doll-size skirt, which she said took about four to six hours to sew.

Dimler received a blue ribbon for the constructed garments she made last year, so she decided to try a more difficult pattern this year.

"I wanted a challenge," she said. Dimler said she was proud of her work but nervous for the judging because she didn't know what questions the judges would ask.

Judge Megan Gilles said 4-H contestants are judged 50 percent on their projects and 50 percent on their interviews.

Each contestant sits down individually with a judge in his or her category and presents his or her project.

"They bring their project. They show how much they've grown in the project. And they get a ribbon and placing," said Carolyn Decker, judge of the food preservation and consumer education categories.

When Cassandra Johnson, 17, presented her peach pie to Decker, Johnson was confident and answered almost every question she was asked.

"This is actually the first pie I've made," Johnson said. "I got a little help from my grandma because my mom doesn't make many pies either. She said, 'I'm not a pie expert, but I'll try.'"

They made the pie with fresh peaches and a lard crust, which Decker said was the best way to go.

Johnson said the pie turned out better than she thought it would.

Decker gave her a few tips on how to improve her next pie and awarded her with a blue ribbon.

"It's just fun to see all the kids come in and see how proud they are," said Cheryl Johnson, secretary of the fair.

Today, fair-goers can view all of the projects, along with their ribbons and placing, in the 4-H building. The 4-H projects, as well as the open class non-livestock entries, will be on display during the entire fair.

Along with viewing 4-H projects, fair-goers can enjoy the lumberjack show, pig races, KRA stock car races and a variety of carnival rides and games.