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After months of prep, these kids watch hard work pay off at Bonneville County Fair


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See a snippet of the sheep judging contest in the video player above | Rett Nelson,

IDAHO FALLS – The Bonneville County Fair is in full swing inside the new fairgrounds and Melaleuca 4-H Events Center.

The fair got underway last Friday with the horse show. It continued Monday and Tuesday with beef, goat, sheep, rabbit and swine judging contests.

Jess Moody is one of the livestock judges. He says it’s a thrill to watch all the kids participate in the fair and demonstrate their hard work in preparing their animals for these events.

“I did this (as a kid) and you can look back and see yourself in the shoes of some of these kids,” Moody tells “Winning’s fun, the kids get rewarded on how they do, (and) the hard work pays off for them here.”

Eighteen-year-old Abby Moulton of Firth has participated in 4-H and the county fair for the last nine years. She’s been busy since November preparing her steer for the Bonneville County Fair. She’s also showing off a cow-calf pair and a goat.

“I had to halter break them first. It was constant work, everyday taking them out and walking them. Then with the steers and the cows, you have to train their feet to move when you push and pull. With the goat, you’re training it to stand still and to let you pick up their feet. There’s quite a bit of work (involved),” says Moulton.

Abby Moulton with her goat, left, and cow-calf pair, steer | Rett Nelson,

Moulton saw the fruits of her efforts with the cows Tuesday when her cow-calf pair placed third in her class for showmanship. Her steer took last place in the market category.

“My steer was too skinny,” Moulton says. “I thought I did really well. My steer stepped up and he did amazing. He didn’t run me over and he stood when he needed to. I was quite pleased with how we did together.”

Moulton says her participation in 4-H has benefitted her in every aspect of her life, and has given her greater confidence.

“We have to give presentations in 4-H. That has helped me be able to conduct assemblies at school, talk to people for job interviews. I’ve also been the president of my club for three years,” says Moulton. “My work ethic and time management (skills) have improved as I’ve worked in 4-H.”

Moulton has one more year of high school and is planning to pursue a career in animal science.

The ability to network and meet new people is another important part of the livestock industry, Moody says, and is another reason why people should support 4-H.

“I get to do what I’m doing right now (because of 4-H),” says Moody. “It taught me how to do livestock judging. (My participation in 4-H) got me a free livestock judging scholarship in college, so it’s done a lot for me.”

RELATED | New Bonneville County Fairgrounds ready to open, including Melaleuca 4-H Events Center

The new Bonneville County Fairgrounds and 4-H events center opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the fair got underway last week. Those working at the fair say the new facility is a big improvement from previous years.

“We have a lot more room to exhibit the kid’s projects. We were really cramped in our old location. We have a lot more room to spread out and everything is displayed better,” says Cheryl Carter, a secretary in the University of Idaho, Bonneville County extension office.

Rett Nelson,

Carter says the indoor show arena with bleachers is nice and is a lot better than standing outside under a hot tent, which is what they’ve done in previous years.

Livestock judging competitions will continue until 6 p.m. Wednesday night. Immediately following, there will be an awards banquet and parking lot dance for high school seniors participating in the fair.

The last day of the fair begins Thursday, Aug. 8 with a Round Robin Contest at 8 a.m. and Cupcake Wars at 9 a.m. There is also a livestock sale at 6 p.m. The full schedule of events is listed in the Facebook post below.