Pet owners make the grade

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gretta Bergstrom, 6, interviews with judges wotj jer cats Ryan the Lion and Princess Fluff during the 4-H cat show Friday at the Mower County Fair. - Eric Johnson/

With a judge in front of her, Madeline showed off a bit, doing her best to get a blue ribbon for her owner, 11-year-old Grady Rambadt.

Madeline is Grady’s cat, and together, the two were part of the Mower County 4H pet show at the fair, along with about 30 other youngsters and their various animals.

Grady Rambadt puts his cat Madeline down during his interview for the 4-H cat show Friday morning at the Mower County Fair. -Eric Johnson/

The young cat certainly played the role of star quite well, which was no surprise to Grady’s mom, Brigette Rambadt.

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“She’s a diva,” Brigette Rambadt said. “She sits in the window at home and says, ‘Come pet me.’”

However, despite Madeline’s star appeal, Grady was actually the one being judged.

Amy Nelson, a 4H program coordinator in Waseca County who came to the Mower County Fair to judge, said it was the youngsters — not their pets — that she was evaluating.

Nelson said the event is meant to measure the young 4Hers’ knowledge and skill in handling a pet. Some competitors brought their animals, others brought just a poster, while others still brought both — all to display what they know.

And it didn’t really matter what kinds of pets the youngsters brought to the fair. Cats and dogs were the most popular animals, but a goat and a hare were also featured.

Nelson said what the show came down to was how well the young pet owners knew their animals — and for the most part, they knew them really well.

“They sure know a lot,” Nelson said. “It’s amazing.”

For Nelson, it was her first time judging a pet show. However, she’s been involved with her local 4H for a while, and she said getting the chance to judge was a great way to get even more involved with the youth who participate.

“I’ve had a blast,” she said in between participants on Friday. “It’s good for me, because I can learn things about (4Hers).”

And taking the roughly one-hour drive down to Austin was also a plus for Nelson.

“It’s a fun fair to come to,” she said. “I love county fairs. Anytime I can get out of the office, it’s great.”

Especially when that means meeting passionate young pet owners like Grady Rambadt — and diva cats like Madeline.

“She did very well, I think,” Brigette Rambadt said with a smile.