KALISPELL - One of the main events at the Northwest Montana Fair and Rodeo is the 4H and FFA competitions and auctions.
While fairgoers get to enjoy seeing all the animals, 4H isn’t just about the animals for the hard-working kids.
“4H is really about community, building leaders in our society, creating friendships, learning responsibility, hard work and dedication and overcoming some really hard obstacles,” said Flathead County 4H hog superintendent assistants Rose Mcintyre and Mary Davidson.
4H kids raise their animals from babies, take care of them and train them for show and it is a lot of hard work.
“I learned how to get up early. And I learned responsibility. And I learned lots of stuff about my pig and other animals,” said Norman Gardener who raises hogs.
The kids create lifelong friendships and learn so much while raising their animals but the ultimate goal for the kids is to get their livestock to fair week.
“Hectic, organized chaos, but it's so fun. It's the kid's favorite time of the whole entire year. So it's what they look forward to and it's not just because of the animal it's because of the friends that they spend the week with,” said Mcintyre.
Fair week isn’t all fun and games though, the kids must sell their livestock at auction.
“Sale day is a bittersweet day for these kids. It's the culmination of their projects, they come to the end. They're really sad to see their animal go,” said Davidson.
“But it's also it's something that they know that's why they're doing their project. They know that their project is what feeds us and so they're learning where their food comes from, and they're learning the process and the energy that it takes to put food on the table,” said Mcintyre.
Through it all, the kids stick together and rely on their friendships to make it a successful fair.
"It's really cool to see how they overcome those hard decisions and keep moving forward and keep dedicated to their projects and kind of rally around each other when things get tough,“ said Davidson.