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Dallas County 4H members prepare to take on the Iowa State Fair

Whether it's showing sheep or riding horses, some teens from Dallas County are making their mark on the state's biggest summer celebration.

DALLAS COUNTY, Iowa — It's horse show day, it's early and it's time to get to work.

"It is, but it's an enjoyable work," Sophia Garside said. 

For Garside, showing her horse Gunner at the Dallas County Fair means a day that starts before sunrise and hours spent braiding, grooming and making sure everything is just right.

"So that's my goal today, to really just work with him and work through everything with him and just have the best ride we can possibly can."

She and Gunner hit the ring, putting their best foot and hoof forward. It's a dance they've perfected over the years, with each show getting them ready for the big audience.

Sophia has her sights set high this year: she wants to compete in the Iowa State Fair Junior Cowgirl Queen contest.

"I knew I loved horses. And I knew that I wanted to try to get to the point of riding in the Cowgirl Queen contest. It's very something that has always piqued my interest," she said. "And now that I'm old enough to compete, and I'm living here in Iowa, I've moved around a lot. So now that I'm back in Iowa, and I'm able to ride in the Cowgirl Queen. It's always been my dream and I finally get a little bit."

RELATED: Your guide to the 2022 Iowa State Fair

A few feet away, Jenna Kujac-Schlieman keeps watch over the handful of animals she brought to the fair, including sheep and pigs.

"Whenever they get out of the pen, it's showtime. Even if we're just at home practicing. They always go into their routine." she said.

Practice is just one part of raising winning livestock — the day-to-day is more lifestyle than a pastime.

"They get fed twice a day and sometimes, even with our pigs, we do three times and then they get daily exercise and they get hay and water every morning and night," Kujac-Schlieman said. "So just that we juggle a lot of different things so we can get our animals ready for these fairs and different jackpots and stuff."

With this life comes sacrifice. Time caring for animals leaves little room for other activities, but it's all done for out of love and in the name of fun.

"Yeah, it's cool to win ribbons and banners and stuff, but it's really fun just going in there and showing off our animals that we've raised for months," she said. "We meet new people and make new friends and new families with anyone who's showing here. And it's so important to have that outreach, to feel like you're, in the community you're living in, that you're connected with everyone."

Earlier this year, she started a program called Show Me the Sheep, which helps kids with special needs learn how to show and raise sheep.

Kujac-Schlieman and Garside have very different everyday paths, but their journeys overlapped in one major way: the Iowa State Fair.

The Junior Cowgirl Queen event will be held Friday, Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Jacobsen Exhibition Center. 

Local 5 and CW Iowa 23 are bringing exciting 2022 Iowa State Fair experiences to you, from live newscasts to an interactive Local 5 Weather Lab experience. Come see us in front of the Administration Building (Grand Concourse) each day between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.

WATCH: Complete coverage from the 2022 Iowa State Fair


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