Iowa 4-H Foundation

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 11:58 AM by Global Reach

4-H in Montgomery County has grown through the years.  From the time it started, it has gone from an achievement show to a county fair that lasts a week.  Many people have grown up with the 4-H program over the years and have learned a great deal of life skills during their time and years in the Montgomery County 4-H program.

Before the Montgomery County Fair, there was a 4-H Achievement Show which was held from 1919 to 1956.  This gave 4-H and FFA members an opportunity to show off their projects publicly.  At the time, the major projects were in the categories of: girl’s clothing, food and nutrition, home furnishings, beef, swine, sheep, and dairy.

At the Achievement Show, the beef and dairy cattle were housed under the baseball bleachers and an old skating rink was used for the girls’ exhibits.  The farmers helped by using borrowed panels to make pens under elm trees to house the swine and sheep.  The only entertainment during this time was the judging of the projects for the fair-goers.

In 1936, there were nine local club groups, with four clubs being formed that year.  The activities during this year consisted of a 4-H club party, three 4-H club tours, a county achievement show in connection with the Farm Bureau picnic, training of two judging teams for State Fair competition, Wilson award (awarded to an outstanding club member) and two trips to Ames.  The achievement show that year was held on August 25 and 26 in Red Oak.  The colts, dairy/beef cattle were all shown on the city square.  During this time, all the entries of the same breed were judged in one big class.  Example, everyone that brought Angus steers would be against each other in one class.

Some of the clubs during this time were: Corn Club-having a plot of corn and learning how to take tests and grow it (13 members), Baby Beef Club (51 boys and girls), Beef Heifer Club (9 boys/girls), Dairy Calf Club (7 boys), Pig Club (39 boys), Sheep Club (20 boys), Colt Club (19 boys/girls), Poultry Club (12 boys/girls), Farm Record Club-was first introduced this year, the people involved would keep complete records on their home farms (13 boys), and Home Furnishing Club (132 girls).  The achievement show was held in the Red Oak Armory.  There were eight home furnishing clubs that had booths and it was the first year the judging was done with blue, red, and white ribbon classes.

In the year of 1946, there was an increase in the enrollment of 4-H participants in Montgomery County due to it being the postwar year; along with increase in completed projects and fat livestock.  Eight clubs were organized this year representing twelve different townships. The achievement show was held August 13-15.  The boys and girls showed in conjunction a total of 190 head of livestock.  During this year there was some prior 4-H member assistance given to the 4-H program by two members who returned from the service.  In May, there was a fulltime county extension assistant in Youth Activities secured to aid in the 4-H programs.  This is when letters and bulletins started to be sent out to keep participants in the 4-H program informed on its activities.  

During this year there were seven girl home projects 4-H clubs and it was the first year for clothing in the county.  During this year there was a problem with the securing of competent and aggressive leaders.  Much of this was due to the incomplete re-adjustment following the war.  Also, due to the meat shortage, the 4-H projects sold for high prices.  This affected 4-H’ers ability to choose a satisfactory project, and the ability to care for their animals.  There was also a cooperation and interest problem with parents and it was believed if the clubs keep growing the interest of parents needs to increase.

Before 1948 there were no buildings to house livestock.  But in 1948, a skating rink was built to display the 4-H girl’s exhibits.  When 1949 came along another building was built and another in 1952.  All of these buildings were built by donations of labor and funds from the 4-H leaders and parents.

4-H clubs in 1956 took charge of getting more people enrolled in the program by prospective members being contacted by current club members and asked to join the club for the October meeting to get an idea of what 4-H is all about.  Rate of Gain contests were held for the baby beefs and market litters (pigs).  The Montgomery County Fair was held August 6-9 of this year.  166 4-H members exhibited and approximately 500 head of livestock were showed that year which was a decrease in 4 exhibitors but an increase of 80 head since 1955.  A new barn was built to house 88 cattle and pens and another barn to house pigs and sheep.  

Like today, many of the buyers at the auction were from the county but other buyers from Omaha, Ottumwa, St. Joe, and Fremont were present.  This year there was a countywide style revue with the theme “A 4-H Cruise” held.  They were judged Monday August, 6th and presented Tuesday August 7th.

Also in this year, there was held a countywide 4-H sports day where every club participated, 4-H signs were made and placed at the entrances of Montgomery County at all of the major highways, three exchange students from India also visited southwest Iowa through the International Farm Youth Exchange.

The International Farm Youth Exchange was an exchange program of farm young people twenty to thirty years of age and between the United States and foreign countries.  This year the students stayed in southwest Iowa from May 9 through June 4.  This was a great learning experience for the students themselves and those visiting along with the 4-H programs in the area.  Both the exchange students and Southwest Iowa got to learn a lot about the agriculture and customs of each others culture.

In February of 1956, an organization called “The Montgomery County Agricultural Society” was organized with the purpose of helping operate the Montgomery County Fair.  The fair that year ran from August 6 through the 9.  During that fair, there were 295 4-H exhibitors showing 350 head of livestock and 490 girl 4-H exhibits.

In 1963, a combination building was built consisting of a cattle barn and a show ring.  This allowed for enough room for livestock without crowding or renting a tent; like had been done in the past.  During this same year the Legion offered to sell the skating rink to the fairboard to house the girl’s exhibits.  Before any decision was made to buy it the skating rink burned down after the fair of 1963.

In the earlier years there was a problem with parent involvement but in 1966 there was a project leader system added.  This program was designed to have adult supervision and instruction in all project areas; many extension council, leaders, and committee members were for giving the program a try.  During this time, you could find project leaders for most projects.  These project area leaders presented many new subjects and ideas under each project area which heightened interest in 4-H members.  

Some of the new project areas presented were: entomology, art, welding, electricity, tractor, forestry, junior leadership, woodworking, and photography.  This was definitely a year of improvement in quality of subject matter which was shown, in the livestock projects and the new projects.  One problem that was presented was that now it was hard to find project leaders for each area because of the vast areas that were presented.

By 1968 the 4-H program grew to where there were 371 4-H members exhibiting 460 head of livestock, 700 girls 4-H projects and 52 related 4-H exhibits.  In the following year the fair bought 13.3 acres of land which enabled for the 4-H and fair programs to expand their projects.

In the year of 1970, the first fair queen contest was started in Montgomery County.  This was just like the one held today which doesn’t limit the runners to just 4-H members.  The first Montgomery County Fair Queen was Peggy Peterson who had been a long time 4-Her. Along with becoming the Montgomery County Fair Queen the queen also had to represent the county at the Iowa State Fair, like they still do today.

During 1976, thirty-four Montgomery County 4-Hers with seven adults visited Jackson County, Kansas for a one-day exchange to learn more about their 4-H program, family living, crops, and industries in Kansas.  Also during this year eighteen youth and two adult leaders took part in the Citizenship Short course in Washington D.C. in July.  A livestock judging program was started this year in Montgomery County to teach 4-Hers on how to evaluate live animals and their carcass potential.  This would help the 4-Hers to better select their animal projects for the fair.  Sixty- nine 4-Hers participated in the judging contest and a judging team was selected for state competition.

The continuing interest in poultry and other animal projects other than the traditional ones continued to grow.  Horsemanship, showmanship, and pleasure classes at the Montgomery County Fair this year was divided according to abilities and experience rather than by age like it had been in the past.  During the last couple of years horticulture was added to the project list and this year floral specimens and house plants were added.  In 1977, it was decided that the 13.3 acres of land that was purchased from the Legion in 1969 was going to be put to use by having the fair night shows there.  At that time the baseball diamond was being used for about everything so they decided to build an arena on the land to house the night shows.

In 1986, there were seventeen registered clubs in 4-H.  During this time there was an emphasis on changing the 4-H club names to where they were not sexist anymore.  More boys started exhibiting projects in the Home Economics area.

In 1988-89, Sue Jones was asked to paint a mural on one of the walls known as the Gold Fair Building auditorium.  She spent approximately a week painting the mural which features a rural farm scene with different animals along with the 4-H and FFA symbols and the Montgomery County Fair insignia.  All the materials for this project were donated by John and Gayle Hossle of Red Oak.  At the fair this year (2006) Sue was recognized again for her amazing job and hard work that went in to painting the mural.

In 2002 a new exhibit building was built to house all of the 4-Her’s static projects.  This was a great improvement to the fairgoers because the building is closer to the rest of the fair buildings and so many 4-Hers have more people looking at their exhibits.  Recently also to this building there has been added new display boards to show off the static exhibits going to the state fair.  These display boards were contributions from Dwaine Long and made by current fair helpers.

Also in 2002 it was the 4-H Centennial year and it was decided that the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was started.  This award was to honor some of 4-H’s most outstanding volunteers.  Each county in Iowa could submit one inductee and that person would be recognized at the Iowa State Fair.  Helen Bredberg was the one that was selected from Montgomery County for the 4-H award for the first year.  She was in 4-H as a youth, being involved in the 4-H & Youth Committee as a member and chair, 4-H & Youth Aide, worked with seventeen different county fairs as the youth program assistant, static judging, and much more.

Up until 2003 everyone that showed swine had each their pigs as individuals and pens of three.  After the 2003 year though the pen of three part of the swine show got eliminated so now in the present day everyone continues to have individuals but they also have a derby pig.  In 2004 it was recommended for all the 4-Hers to shave/trim their pig’s hair for fair.  Why this was done who knows.  The recipient of the 2003 Hall Of Fall was Jake and late Joanne Baird.  Jack has been a part of 4-H since he participated in 1944 and Joanne was also a big part of 4-H for many years with been a leader and a superintendent for communications.

In 2004 Helen Archer was selected by Montgomery County to be inducted into the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame.  She has been a 4-H’er, a leader for many years, she has contributed to the 4-H Horse and Pony program for many years, sponsored trophies, static exhibit writer, and still does a lot dealing with the 4-H program.

In 2005, meat goats were added to the many animals showed at the fair.  This year we had twenty-eight 4-Hers that exhibited goats.  This was a great turn out for the first year!  Also, in this year, there were a total of 227 4-H and FFA exhibitors which made up of ten clubs.

These clubs were: East Sunrisers, Garfield Go-Getters, Garfield Wolves, Grant Spitfires, Northeast Herdsmen, Pilot Grove Punchers, Sherman Overalls, Stanton Strivers, Stennett Panthers, and 4-H Horse Club.  Also to make the fair and 4-H program so successful there was a total of thirty-three adult superintendents with a total of 364 years of experience with the 4-H program.  Along with those thirty-three adults there were fifty-two general leaders, project leaders, activity leaders, with the total of 426 years of experience in the 4-H program.  

This shows that many people feel the 4-H program is successful and that it benefits those participants in many ways.  The Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame was given to the late Dave & Phyllis Gohlinghorst.  Dave participated in 4-H as a teenager, was active in the 4-H program when his kids were participating, was a Montgomery County Fairboard member, and served in a vase array of leadership roles during his life in the 4-H program.  Phyllis was active in 4-H when her children were apart and enjoyed helping with the 4-H program.  She enjoyed the fair and supported it along with her family throughout the many years and roles they played.

4-H has come along ways since it started in Montgomery County.  As you can see 4-H has been a huge part in many people’s lives.  The people that have been involved in the 4-H program are endless and are appreciated for all they have done to continue the long tradition of 4-H in Montgomery County.  The 4-H program continues to change from year to year and anticipates the many years to come.

 Selecting Champion Angus Steer in downtown square in Red Oak County Achievement Show 1936

Selecting Champion Angus Steer in downtown square in Red Oak County Achievement Show 1936

Senior Herford Class 1946 at the baseball diamond.

Senior Herford Class 1946 at the baseball diamond.

4-H livestock on the square County Achievement Show 1936


 4-H livestock on the square County Achievement Show 1936


4-H Club Booths at the Montgomery County Achievement Show 1936

4-H Club Booths at the Montgomery County Achievement Show 1936

 Style Revue Winners in 1956 Theme “A 4-H Cruise”

Style Revue Winners in 1956 Theme “A 4-H Cruise”














Visit the Montgomery County 4-H Website.

To make a donation to the Montgomery County Endowment through the Iowa 4-H Foundation, click this button. Then select Montgomery County in the far right column (My 4-H County) and complete the gift information.

Donate Today!



Continue the Montgomery County 4-H History and share your comments below.  


There are no comments yet.
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field

© 2024 Iowa 4-H Foundation. All Rights Reserved.