September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"About 75 percent of the children who participate in the Little Britches show, enter the 4-H program and continue their careers in the showring," Klinkner said.
This year marks the 24th year for youth under the age of nine to take part in the showring by parading around with their calves.
"It's a chance for youth to get involved in the fair. They learn responsibility and can take ownership of something at the fair and look forward to it each year," Klinkner said.
Klinkner's mother, Judy Wubbenhorst, took the opportunity to share her love for showing dairy animals and started the Little Britches show in 1990. When she started the show, participation was never expected to grow to more than 100 children each year.
"When Mom started the program, there were maybe 10 children that came and participated. Today, and for the past several years, more than 100 youth from Vernon County have participated in the Little Britches Show," Klinkner said.
Growing up on a dairy farm near Westby, Wis., Klinkner was always a part of the showring herself. She remembers starting out in the Little Britches program.
"I remember being able to come and show my calf even before I was eligible to participate in the 4-H show. Now I have a chance to help organize and participate with my children," Klinkner said.
Klinkner eventually met her husband, Rob, during the Wisconsin State Fair. They settled down on a small dairy farm near Liberty Pole, Wis. where they milk about 20 registered Holsteins and Jerseys.
The Klinkner's children, Reagen (8), Garrison (6), Rubi (2) and Ginger (4 months) are no strangers to the showring. With her experience in the showring early on, Klinkner and her family have continued to participate in showing for the past 15 years.
"It is neat to see the youth grow with the program. Reagen started showing in the Little Britches show very young, and this was his last year. Being able to see how their love for showing and animals grows as they take ownership over the years," Klinkner said.
With so much involvement from her mother in the beginning, Klinkner has helped in organizing and planning the show. Other tasks she has helped with include finding sponsors as well as asking the participants questions on show day. In 2007, she took over the role of announcing at the show.
"There is a lot of work that goes into organizing an event like this. We make sure that all the youth who participate get a bag full of goodies, including cheese curds and a big rosette ribbon," Klinkner said.
After taking on more responsibility, Klinkner has focused on passing the show to the next generation of organizers and continuing the tradition of the show.
"Next year we will be celebrating 25 years. I would like to recognize all the sponsors and volunteers that have helped with the program as well as get former participants to stand in the audience. I think there are more generations in the stands than we could imagine. I just look at my family - I was a part of the show, and now I am working with my children as they are a part of today's show," Klinkner said.
As 25 years of the Vernon County Little Britches Program nears, Klinkner along with her parents, Judy and Job, and many other volunteers will continue to gain the support of the community as they help foster a passion in youth for showing and talking with others about dairy farming.
"It is fun to see the excitement in the youth and the pride they take in showing their calf. This program has been a huge part of the fair for the past 24 years. I hope that it will continue to be a huge part as the participation grows and spirals into the future of the dairy industry," Klinkner said.[[In-content Ad]]
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