Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 13, 1992, Page 24

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



Good Old Days 

By Dee Zimmerman    


Clark County 4-H History


The 4-H Program as we know it today started with boys and girls clubs first organized in 1904.  Clark County boys and girls clubs were organized by school districts in about 1916.  The start of the first 4-H programs expanded from those calf clubs which were organized here in 1917.  The clubs were sponsored by breed organizations, corn testing associations, banks, and interested individuals.  Mr. R. V. Brown worked as county agent from 1918-1920.


The 1918 Clark County Fair, which had one of the first boys and girls clubs exhibits, was September 11 to 14.  The clubs exhibited pigs, calves, colts, poultry, as well as garden and farm crops.  Leaders in the county at that time were Merideth Knorr, Granton; Violet D. Parks, Thorp; R. B. Brown, Neillsville; J. H. Fradette, Neillsville; and Minnie Thompson, Curtiss.


The club motto, “To Make The Best Better” was adopted at the 1920 Clark County Fair which was said to have had “the largest exhibition of livestock in any county fair in the state shown from herds of one county” Clark County had the largest stock barn in the state owned by a fair society.  Also in that year the Commercial Bank Pig Club of Granton was organized for the purpose of getting purebred hogs shown at the fair by boys and girls.  Mr. H. M. Knipfel was the county agent in 1920.


In 1921, the fine arts building, was constructed.


Requirements for staying at the fair camp (49 boys stayed); each boy brought the following food items: 1 lb. butter, 1 dozen eggs, 2 loaves of bread, 1 to 2 pecks of potatoes, and $1.25.  First prize in each of the livestock breeds paid $50.00.


Demonstrations became a part of the club work in 1923.  Over $500 in cash prizes was awarded to between 150-165 youngsters.  Lester Carter of Greenwood was Honor Calf Club member.


Cattle judging at the 1926 Clark County Fair.

The cars are lined up along the edges of the Fairground Road, east of the fairground.


During the following years enrollments increased from 453 members in 1926 to 800 members in 1940.  In the late 20s, leadership training schools began.  The new grandstand was built in 1928 and 20 4-H Club fair booths were made available.  Clark County was the first in the state to build a dormitory for the boys and girls at the fair camp.


The team demonstration of Lenore Bartz and Anita Jacobi directed by Mrs. Harold Lovey of the Clever Canning Club of Granton and Romadka represented the county at the state fair in 1929.  Wallace Landry was elected as the new county agent.  The clothing project winners in the state received a trip to Paris, France and London, England.


In 1931 Mary Orinda Osgood became part-time county club agent.  The machinery building was remodeled and improvements were made on the dining hall.


A scene in 1932 with the 4-H Club members and some leaders lined up in front of the mess hall.


Eileen Giesler and Alma Burmeister won the home economics judging contest at the 1934 state fair and represented Wisconsin at National Club Congress in Chicago.  Miss Ruth Huckstead was part-time 4-H agent.


Mrs. Arthur Berg became club agent in 1938.  The 4-H newspaper was initiated during that time and was published twice a year.


The year 1941 saw the establishment of a Junior Fair Board.  The following year the county was divided into 5 districts. A representative of each district made up an executive committee.  Delegates were Dist. I, Everett Stark; Dist. II, Leland Haas; Dist. III, Mrs. Art Thompson; Dist. IV, Mrs. Walter Swieso; Dist. V, Irving Davis.  In those years, 4-H picnics were held at Owen, Greenwood and Neillsville.  Throughout the war years Victory Projects were encouraged and many scrap drives were held.  Clothing and dairying were the most popular projects.


A 4-H basketball tournament was organized in 1947.  A newsletter was published once a month.  The 4-H club floats were initiated at the 4-H Club parade at the fair.


In 1948 a 4-H Club band was organized under the direction of Mr. M. G. Hamel of Arpin and Mr. Ralph Abrahamson of Medford.


John Wilke, a blue ribbon winner, attended the Milwaukee Centennial Exposition for fat stock.  Arlene Mills attended as a winner for the dress revue.  The Curtiss Clever Club won the softball championship and Dorchester 4-H won the basketball championship.


The 50s brought many more projects, more members and with it was more competition.  Clark County won the state 4-H Recreation Award two years in succession.  Folk and square dancing were introduced.  County membership was over 1,000 in 1954.  Safety campaigns were many.  Larry Babka was club agent in 1956 and John Acken became county agent in 1957.


Joe T. Pietrek came to Clark County in 1960 to become 4-H club agent.  Interstate Exchange of 4-H members began in 1968.  After the death of Joe Pietrek, Jim Van Wychen took over the 4-H club agent position.  Mike Perkl is now the present 4-H club agent.


Now, during 1992, the 4-H Club Program is still a vital part of the Clark County Fair.  The young people represent promises for a positive future with the fine exhibits and projects brought to the fair each year.


The 1966 Clark County Fair dates displayed on one of the fair buildings as viewed along Highway 10.



These three finely dressed young men had their picture taken while they were at the Northern Wisconsin Chippewa Falls State Fair.  They were residents of Columbia at the time.  The name Ted Bornholdt is written on the photo.



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