*This story was featured in the Hastings Tribune on July 22, 2016.
DESHLER — With scorching temperatures hovering around the 100-degree mark on Thursday afternoon at the Thayer County Fairgrounds, fairgoers, 4-H’ers and livestock were feeling the heat.
The high temperatures forced the Thayer County Fair Board to tweak the fair schedule, which led to the decision to postpone the horse judging contest. Instead of judging horses, more of an emphasis was put on keeping all parties involved — including the animals — safe.
“It’s been pretty warm, but for the most part everyone is dealing with it and taking the proper precautions to keep their animals safe,” said Jacie Milius, Thayer County extension educator.
The horse judging originally was scheduled for 3 p.m., but the decision to postpone the event allowed for fair organizers to regroup and prepare for the night’s festivities.
While fair organizers were prepping for the night portion of the fair, livestock owners were busy in the 4-H Beef Barn tending to livestock in an effort to keep them cool. Preventative measures were taken, such as the placement of numerous fans and misters in the barn, along with steady refills of water to ensure the safety of livestock and poultry entries.
“In the middle of the afternoon, we normally go fill up buckets so they can drink some water,” said 12-year-old Cayden Huber of Hebron.
The heat also has caused livestock owners to pay special attention for signs of heat-related issues and even forced a tweak in the animals’ feeding schedule, among other things.
“A lot of early mornings and late nights … they don’t eat as good in the heat,” said livestock owner Tyson Hissong. “We feed in the morning anyways, but we just do it earlier and later to deal with the heat. They’re like humans: When it’s hot out, you don’t want to eat. When it’s hot out, they don’t want to eat.”
Hissong said the heat also has made livestock owners spend less time moving their animals out of the shade, which has had an effect on the preparation portion of the entry shows.
He also noted that the heat has forced many 4-H’ers to spend less time in the 4-H barn and more time at home.
Cayden was forced to get creative to stay out and about at the fair.
“We brought a mini fridge!” he announced with a smile.
While the livestock tend to receive a bit of special attention during the dog days of summer, so, too, do the people attending the fair.
Much like with the animals, a number of measures to ensure safety and fun were put in place well before the afternoon.
The Deshler Fire Department set up a booth inside the Thayer County Fairgrounds Activity Center equipped with free bottles of water, blood pressure machines and nurses on site.
In conjunction with those efforts from the fire department, the Thayer County Emergency Management team had a trailer set up right outside the Activity Center to help, too. The team was prepared to help fairgoers stay cool and stay safe.
While the horse judging event was the primary event affected by the weather, it wasn’t the only one.
The Thayer County Fair parade, a signature event of the county fair, runs past the Parkview Haven Nursing Home and traditionally allows for members to sit on the lawn and watch the parade.
The heat didn’t entirely stop Parkview Haven members from watching the parade, but they were forced to take precautions in the form of sun hats and plenty of water.
Overall, Milius has simple advice for those attending the fair.
“The people who come to the air just need to know that if they get too hot to come inside, drink plenty of water and be smart.”