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CUTLINE: Travis Sparrgrove of Castalia works every morning and evening washing, clipping, feeding, leading, and brushing his cows in order for them to be ready for the Fayette County Fair. (Photo by Amber Hovey)
By Amber Hovey
For Travis Sparrgrove, the Fayette County Fair is a time when he can show off all the hard work he has put forth through the year for FFA and 4-H.
Sparrgrove, who graduated this year from North Fayette, has been showing animals at the fair since he was 5 years old.
In 2005, he joined the Eldorado Eagles 4-H Club.
“It’s a learning experience,” said Travis.
“4-H has been the perfect club for him, because it lets him explore so many different things he’s interested in,” said his mother, Peggy Sparrgrove. “Lots of trophies, lots of ribbons…”
“Lots of pictures,” added Travis quickly.
Travis has shown calves, dairy cattle, swine, rabbits, and chickens through his years in 4-H.
The Sparrgrove family bought their first Guernsey cow for Travis to show his first year of 4-H.
“He did really well,” said Peggy.
Travis has shown the champion or reserve champion Guernsey for many of the last eight years.
Guernseys are also Travis’ favorite breed of cow.
“They are kind of laid-back and in no hurry to do anything — like you,” laughed Travis’s dad, John.
“That’s right,” Travis nodded with a smile. “And Guernseys are good heifers for little kids.”
Travis and his family travel to the Iowa State Fair every year to show, as well. Often at the fair Travis speaks to little kids about his calf or cow.
“I teach them how to know where milk comes from and where all the milk products around town come from,” he explained.
However, before the Iowa State Fair, Travis takes his cows to the Big Four Fair in Postville, the Winneshiek County Fair in Decorah for the open show, and to the Fayette County Fair in West Union.
In order to make sure his cows are ready by fair time, the young showman works every morning and evening with his cows. He spends between two and three hours every day working with his chickens and four cows.
“I wash them, clip them, feed them, and teach them to lead,” Travis related.
“We kind of figure he’s kind of like a cow whisperer, because he just has a way with them. The cows just go with him, and it’s easy for him to break them,” laughed Peggy.
This year at the Big Four Fair, the Castalia teenager won Supreme Champion Holstein, and Grand Champion Guernsey.
Along with showing cattle this year, Travis will also shows broiler chickens or, as Travis called them, “meat product chickens.”
“He loves chickens,” commented Peggy.
In the broiler class, Travis will show three chickens, which he has been working to tame. “So they don’t squirm around so much,” he explained.
Aside from his dairy cows and chickens, Travis has done multiple projects for 4-H, including woodworking, photography, and visual communication, some of which have gone to the Iowa State Fair.
He also works at the Clover Café during the Fayette County Fair and helps patrol the 4-H Building.
Travis is not the only one in his family to be active at the Fayette County Fair.
His mother grew up as a 4-H’er, and his father was a 4-H leader in Winneshiek County.
Travis’ two older brothers and older sister also showed animals at the fair for 4-H and FFA.
The hardworking youth is even helping his nieces and nephews this year for the fair’s Pee Wee Show.
“I have to hold the halter, just in case the calf moves around too much,” explained Travis.
The other day, his mother noted, he stood in the middle of where his niece was circling and voice-coached her.
For Travis and the rest of the Sparrgrove family, fair time is a great time to have fun with friends and family, as well as show folks from around the county what they have accomplished through the year in FFA and 4-H.
“We probably bleed green,” laughed Peggy of the active 4-H faimly.