Banquet shows off 4-H quality

Published 10:59 am Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It’s been a week now and my heart still hasn’t stopped racing.

No. Not the Marian Clennon recount in the Austin mayoral election. Good Grief! Mark Nagle’s recount in 2008 was for a less-than-50-vote margin.

But I digress. Can’t sleep at night, feel absolutely giddy and just want to hug somebody. Anybody.

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A night at the Mower County 4-H Recognition Banquet in Adams does that to me.

That’s right, Adams. You know the place, where all the kids are over-achievers, the women can multi-task and the men know their place. For several, it’s American Legion Post No. 146, but that’s another story.

They used to hold the banquet in mid-October, but moved it to November so the Women (and a few Men and Children) of Sacred Heart Catholic Church can tease banquet-goers with the best meal they will have until Thanksgiving.

I took R. J. and DeDe Bergstrom with me that night. R. J. drove and DeDe sat in the back seat ignoring us.

The banquet attracts the best and brightest children and teens Mower County has to offer. According to Melissa Koch, the county’s 4-H programming coordinator, there are 500 of them. I believe her.

If you went to the Mower County Fair last August, you saw them in action, showing their livestock and non-livestock projects, taking home ribbons and having a positive experience one and all. Some took projects to the Minnesota State Fair and enjoyed the same rewards.

What the public doesn’t see is what they do for family, church, school and community every day of the year. Take my word for it: They make the world a better place.

Anyone who thinks 4-H is not relevant to today’s world should think again.

Adult leaders were honored: Those moms and pops, who show the way.

They gave out awards to honorary leaders, too, plus recognition for Friends of 4-H like Double K Specialty and Julie Holst.

Emily Brekke took home the Deb Schammel Grow Green award named in memory of the gallant woman, who gave so much to 4-H for so many years.

Nick Lunning received the Harlow Sayles Memorial award, which was only a hint of things to come for the LeRoy Wide Awake 4-Her.

Alexis Balgeman earned the Tony Burke Memorial Outstanding 4-H Swine Exhibitor award.

By then, the audience was buzzing with excitement and I was wondering who took the last Rice Krispie bar from the plate at my table.

The awards kept coming: I Dare You Leadership, Ambassador of the Year, Key Award and Grass, Lunning, Nelson Outstanding Livestock Exhibitor.

The latter marked the second top honor for Nick Lunning, who accepted the award with a smile — naturally — when his grandmother, Sharon Grass, presented it with a hug.

My hands had blisters from all the clapping I did when the banquet ended.

My special thanks to Jim Kiefer for reminding me not to mention him in my column because he hasn’t been mayor of Taopi for years. Besides, it makes his sister, Taopi Mayor Mary Huntley jealous.

Darryl Boehm said “Hello.” He always looks sheepish (That’s an inside joke).

Also, it was good to see the best Mower County commissioner there never was, Kyle Klaehn. (Pssst: Tony Bennett will be on the board next year. There’s hope. Think about 2012, Kyle.)

And my main man, Mark Schaefer, got an award. What can you say about Mark except there’s only one of him?

It was good to see the Grass brothers, John and Richard, at the banquet. What’s not to like about the entire Grass, Lunning, Nelson clan?

And in the interests of full disclosure, I did win a door prize at the banquet. It was a small “Got milk?” basket. I asked Eugene “Mr. Dairy” Anderson what I should do with it and he said, “You can put stuff in it.”

Eugene, I’d like to tell you where to put it, but it would be mighty uncomfortable driving tractor during fall plowing.

Congratulations to all the Mower County 4-H’ers and their families!

Save me a seat at next year’s banquet — and a Rice Krispie bar.