Remodeling planned for Kiddie Farmyard

Published 10:40 am Friday, May 21, 2010

How many times during the Freeborn County Fair do you visit the Kiddie Farmyard on the north end of the fairgrounds? Many visit it often during the Six Best Days of Summer.

The Kiddie Farmyard building was built in 1921 and housed what was called “The Girls and Boys Club.” Over the years, other groups have called this barn home also. The building has gone through changes, but always retained the nostalgic ‘20s look.

During the last 10 years, the Kiddie Farmyard has been an attraction that visitors have come to to learn about an ever-changing agriculture and livestock industry.

Email newsletter signup

In the past, the Kiddie Farmyard was operated by FFA chapters. This became increasingly difficult because of the increased projects FFA members participated in at the county fair.

Jane Haukoos of Alden was approached by community members and was asked about becoming a co-superintendent. Dave Adix from Mansfield was the other co-superintendent. The two have worked together for two years. During those years, the farmyard also operated with supervision of adult volunteers.

Haukoos has been a paraeducator at Alden-Conger School for 10 years. During those years she has met many students who asked if they could help with the barn. Haukoos also knew a lot of those students because of her involvement in the Conger 4-H Club. She thought 4-H’ers would be a good source of Kiddie Farmyard volunteers. But he decided she might have the same difficulty getting 4-H’ers to staff the farmyard as the FFA had because of their involvement at the county fair.

Haukoos then started asking at school and on Party Line if any of the kids were interested in volunteering in the farmyard. She had all the shifts filled quickly.

Shifts are from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 3 to 9:30 p.m. The helpers are there on a volunteer basis. There are many helpers that live in town and otherwise would not get the opportunity to experience what it is like to help out in the barn. These helpers are required to work with the animals, feeding, cleaning stalls, and exercising the animals everyday during the week of the fair. Each helper gets a T-shirt, which allows Haukoos identify helpers. Helpers must have completed fifth grade.

Haukoos said many livestock owners offer to bring their animals for display in the farm.

Haukoos supervised the operation of the Kiddie Farmyard alone for a few years. Then a long lost friend, Lynn Stadheim, appeared and said she could help.

For many years there have been repairs and some upgrades to the farmyard. The floors have been patched and cosmetic improvements have been done. Last year, Haukoos brought a proposal to the Fair Board about remodeling the Kiddie Farmyard. The board agreed to the complete remodeling. There is some funding in place, but the staff and friends of the farmyard want to make it a memorable experience. There will be learning stations and hands-on experiences with livestock and the agricultural industry. Fundraisers to supplement funds already in place are planned.

The first event is a pancake breakfast at Applebee’s. This is Saturday from 7 to 10 a.m. A July fundraiser will also be done at Applebee’s.

The biggest fundraiser is called “The Reuse, Recycle and Rewards — Purchase a Brick Fundraiser.” This fundraiser will give people the opportunity to purchase an engraved brick with their name on it. There will be varied purchasing levels, starting at $50 to $100 and up to $5,000 and up. Donors will be able to choose from six giving levels. The first order of bricks is being sold through June 20.