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20 Questions with the State Fair Queen

Watch out for infections after insect bites

Wowing crowds with a chainsaw









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FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD You can find just about everything on-a-stick at a county fair.

20 ON THE COVER Rides are among the biggest draws at a fair. McDermott Family Shows, based in Siouxland, travel around the country to entertain crowds. Photograph by Jim Lee


FEATURES 4 Feature home: Life after water 7 Collections: A Southwestern flair 11 The Fair Life: Kelsey Klingensmith 14 Q&A: The State Fair queen 17 THE FAIR LIFE: Demo derby family 20 THE FAIR LIFE: A carnival of fun 24 THE FAIR LIFE: Chainsaw art 27 THE FAIR LIFE: The fair manager 28 THE FAIR LIFE: Food on-a-stick

30 33 34 36 38 40 43 45 47

A BLUE RIBBON FINISH How do you win a blue ribbon at the fair? Try, try again.

THE FAIR LIFE: A big winner THE FAIR LIFE: Selling everything THE FAIR LIFE: Small animals THE FAIR LIFE: Taking care of animals THE FAIR LIFE: Fair emergencies THE FAIR LIFE: A winning whistler HEALTH: Those pesky insects DOC, I’VE GOT A QUESTION PARTING SHOT: When to say when

PUBLISHER Steve Griffith EDITOR Bruce Miller EDITORIAL Joanne Fox, Dolly Butz, Tim Gallagher, Earl Horlyk, Nick Hytrek, John Quinlan PHOTOGRAPHY Tim Hynds, Jim Lee, Laura Wehde DESIGN Kathryn Sesser, April Burford ADVERTISING SALES Nancy Gevik ADVERTISING DESIGN Stacy Pajl, Jill Bisenius


©2012 The Sioux City Journal. Siouxland Life is published monthly by The Sioux City Journal. For advertising information, please call (712) 224-6275. For editorial information, please call (712) 293-4218.

BE KIND TO ANIMALS Veterinarians make sure animals get the best care during their time in the spotlight.




HOME life

rebounding from a disaster








Text by Joanne Fox | Photographs by Jim Lee

LE MARS, IOWA | BRUDER AND Cosmo sat on their beds, trembling. “I know they thought they had done something wrong,” Jean Weiner said with a laugh. After all, water was pooling in the living room all around the pups. Weiner can laugh about the situation now, but when a water pipe broke Dec. 29, 2011, in the upstairs bathroom of the home she and husband Steve own, water saturated walls and ceilings, dripped out of the ceiling fans and light fixtures, and ran down the stairs into the lower level of the house. It’s no surprise even the dogs were in a state of shock. Jean and her family had gone into Sioux City on a post-Christmas shopping trip for about four hours. “I had a sick feeling when we got back to the house,” she said upon seeing the front porch and walkway completely wet. “When we came in the front door, water was pouring down the steps from the upper level to the ground level to the lower level,” Weiner recalled. “I called our insurance company, Farm Bureau, and my husband turned the water off and called the

plumber, Mike Anthony. Our insurance agent called Paul Davis Restoration to send us help. They arrived and worked into the middle of the night.” The Weiners received the news about evacuation procedures. “We kenneled the pets and went to a motel for a week,” Jean said. “I remember the Paul Davis folks marked the walls and ceilings to indicate which sections would need to be removed. Our daughter drew sad faces and silly poems on those walls for comic relief.” She continued, “The Paul Davis crew started demolishing the walls almost immediately. They told us they needed to get the house opened up and dried out; otherwise, we would be in a world of hurt.” But it wasn’t all bad, Weiner admitted. “On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated as a family at the Holiday Inn in a jacuzzi and played board games in the breakfast area,” she said. The family returned and lived upstairs for a couple of months while repairs and reconstruction were underway. “I was really sad this had

Clockwise from top left: The living room floor in the home of Steve and Jean Weiner had a good amount of water, but no damage.; Jean Weiner is shown in her Le Mars, Iowa home, which was extensively remodeled after severe water damage from a broken pipe. Boxers Bruder and Cosmo are also shown.; Jean Weiner operates her business, Jean Weiner Watercolors, in the lower level. The only things damaged in her studio were fine art shipping crates and a couple sketchbooks. Her paintings were not harmed.; The downstairs bathroom in the home of Steve and Jean Weiner just needed a paint spruce up.; Repairing the lower level in the home of Steve and Jean Weiner resulted in some changes – darker ceilings, for one.




happened during the holidays,” Weiner said, “but I knew it was going to be all right in the end.” Luckily, the home’s furnishings were not ruined by the water. But removing their personal property took a toll, Weiner confessed. “I had several Christmas trees up in the house and a Dickens Village,” she said. “It was like de-manufacturing Christmas early. While we were doing it, it was kind of like a sad hush came over the house. I will never complain about taking down Christmas decorations again.” Despite the “flooding,” Weiner reported the floors were spared. “We were relieved the original hardwood oak floors didn’t have to be replaced,” she said. “The staff at Don Hanna Flooring were able to sand, seal, and refinish the floors.” However, because the water ran into the walls, a majority of the dry wall had to be replaced by Pies Construction and new electrical units were installed. “I remember being excited that we could change paint colors,” she said chuckling. “We did go with a dark ceiling in the basement and taupe walls.” But Weiner really liked the sage green on the ground level and was tickled the painters – Three Brothers and a 6


“I was really sad this had happened during the holidays, but I knew it was going to be all right in the end.”


Brush – could match the previous paint. The lower level is where Weiner runs her art business, Jean Weiner Watercolors. “That was another blessing,” she said. “The only things damaged were fine art shipping crates and a couple sketchbooks.” Her paintings were not harmed. By March 1 the reconstruction was completed and the Weiners could resume their lifestyle. “No more fast food!” Jean insisted, after this experience. “I discovered I could create meals in the crockpot once again, but the first meal I made when we were able to return to the kitchen was meatloaf.” Life is back to normal for the Weiners except for a few idiosyncrasies. “Before we leave the house for any duration, we shut the water off!” Jean said.


From top Original hardwood oak floors, such as these in the kitchen of Steve and Jean Weiner, didn’t have to be replaced following the broken water pipe from the upstairs bathroom. However, because the water ran into the walls, a majority of the dry wall had to be replaced and new electrical units were installed.; Furniture, such as this shown in the dining room in the home of Steve and Jean Weiner, was not damaged by the breaking of an upstairs water pipe.


Southwestern flair

Shirley Knight has many pieces of Southwest arts and crafts in her Dakota City home.



Text by Joanne Fox Photographs by Jim Lee

DAKOTA CITY | SHIRLEY KNIGHT may have been born in Hubbard, Neb., but her heart is with those 20 years she lived in New Mexico. Her Dakota County home is decorated in a style reminiscent of the Southwest – American Indian arts, pottery, pictures, pillows, ceramics, carvings and many other items, too numerous to mention. In fact every room in her modest house, located on Crystal Lake is decorated with the Southwest in mind, even the bathroom, where Knight made a small structure out of yucca with

A hand-painted gourd.

small figures that people are seated and climbing on. Q. When did you start collecting these items? A. When my husband retired, he insisted we move south. “I’m tired of scooping snow,” he said. So, we moved there and I just fell in love with the Southwest style. Q. What’s the first piece you acquired? A. It’s a pair of ceramic Native Americans. I saw them in the office of our bank there and I asked if I could take a picture of them because I wanted to make a pair and paint them. I remember the bank officer laughed and said I could do whatever I wanted. SIOUXLAND LIFE



Hand-crafted bowls made with pine needles.

Hand-painted feathers.

Q. It seems many of the items you created. A. I would consider myself kind of artsy, craftsy. I raised gourds when we lived in New Mexico and painted them. I have a few of them on display. Q. Have you always been artsy, craftsy? A. I’ve always doodled in a number of things. We had a ceramic shop for 25 years in South Sioux. I had 4,000 molds, but my husband said there was no way we could take that many south. He did let me take 200. We also had a floral shop for a while. The double-cross stitch pictures are all my doing. Over the years, I created about 20 quilts, most of which I gave away. It seems I go into something all the way. Q. What would you say is the appeal of the Southwest? A. It’s not only the art. It’s the culture. They move at a much slower pace than we do in the Midwest. When they



say “mañana,” they really mean an indefinite time in the future – not tomorrow. Q. What about price? A. Probably the most expensive item I have cost more than $1,000. It’s an exotic Huichol beaded art salamander, made by the Huichol tribe in the mountains of the South Central U.S. Each bead is handset in a coating of a pine base. The craftsmanship is superb. Q. I see you have some “real” Southwestern items. A. Yes, I have some cactus in the house. When we lived in New Mexico, we landscaped entirely with all native plants. Q. Do you have a favorite piece? A. It’s not part of a collection, but I have a painting of covered wagons that is more than 100 years old that I got from a friend. I also like two ceramic pieces on my wall that were cut out of clay, painted with Southwestern colors and fired. Q. What are some of the most unusual pieces? A. I have some Kachina doll carvings, but nothing compared to the extensive collection John Wayne had. The Hopi, in common with the other Pueblo peoples, developed a unique religious form in the Kachina, which follows an age-old dance form. I also have some Mimbres plates. The Mimbres art is of a vanished race, in the Mimbres and Gila River valleys of southwest New Mexico. The Mimbres people of the Mogollon culture produced what is widely considered to be the finest prehistoric ceramic pottery in the United States, if not the world. A variety of salt and Q. Do you collect pepper shakers. anything else?


Shirley Knight has many pieces of Southwest arts and crafts in her Dakota City home, including a salmander made of beads.

A. I have a modest salt and pepper collection. My sister in Onawa had a huge one and I can remember she would let me hold the pieces. I just have a few of those. I also have a collection of items that were from my family, like my father’s razors. Q. What’s your smallest item? Your largest? A. I have a tiny turquoise pot, about the size of thumbnail. I also have a small, weaved basket made out of walnuts. The largest items have to be my Southwestern pictures on the living room wall. Those were in my office in New Mexico. Q. Is there anything that you’ve said, “This is just too much of an investment, either of time or money”? A. Making jewelry. It took just too much time. Q. Any thought to giving up the artsy, craftsy stuff? A. No. My latest venture is painting scenes or birds or animals on feathers. They take a long time to do, but I’ve found it really relaxes me.

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I i Fa r






s it the animals? The exhibits? The rides? Or the food? Whatever the reason, county — and state — fairs are like magnets for Siouxlanders. This month, we decided to take a look at what goes into making it all tick. In the special Siouxland Life section, you’ll meet:  Kelsey Klingensmith, an aspiring singer/songwriter from Moville, Iowa, who’s spending the summer performing at area fairs.  Paris Schnepf, the Granville, Iowa, teen who’s Iowa State Fair Queen.  The McDermott family, operators of the McDermott Family Shows. Those attractions you love to ride? They know them well — and love sharing them with you.  Jeff Klatt, a Storm Lake, Iowa, chainsaw sculptor who turns dead trees into works of art.  Garrett Bowder, a Pender, Neb., resident who’s a state whistling champion.  Dave Amick, the Woodbury County Fair manager -- who tells us it’s more than just a summer job.  The Kollbaum family of Anthon, Iowa. They believe there’s nothing like a good demolition derby to bring family members together.  Eleanore Lewis, from Correctionville, Iowa, who has taken home more than a few colorful ribbons for her handiwork at the fair.  Pam DeVries and Deanna Beckman, who have handled the “big red health trailer” at the Dakota-Thurston County Fair. Throw in those food-on-stick people, the gadget hawkers and other key personnel and you’ve got a reason to appreciate the fair life even more. So, grab something on a stick and head on in.



Kelsey Klingensmith has parlayed an interest in music into a performing career. She’s currently working on a second CD.




Text by Earl Horlyk | Photos Laura Wehde

BEFORE SHE WAS EVEN OLD enough to attend kindergarten, Kelsey Klingensmith wanted to perform. In fact, the Moville, Iowa, native would enter the Bill Riley Talent Search contest at the Woodbury County Fair,

wowing audiences with her acrobatic dancing. And what would the precocious Kelsey do for an encore? She’d entertain her brothers with an impromptu concert in the back seat of the family’s car. “Kelsey would sing Rodney Atkins’

‘Watching You,’” remembered Kelsey’s mom, Tammy Klingensmith. “As much as Kelsey enjoyed dance, it became obvious that she was born to sing.” Since she made the switch from being a dancer who sang to a country singer-songwriter who played the guitar, Kelsey has written more than 100




Kelsey Klingensmith performs her song “Songbird” at her rural Moville, Iowa, home.

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songs and released a CD (“Live, Laugh, Love”) of all original material. Oh, and did we mention Kelsey just turned 13 years old? “Even as a little girl, Kelsey has always known she wanted to be a singer,” dad Brian Klingensmith who, like Tammy, is a Sioux City North Middle School teacher, said. “This is her dream.” Kelsey’s dream frequently involves performing several times a week, including scheduled appearances at the Cherokee, Sioux and Woodbury County Fairs. Entertaining a hometown crowd at Moville’s Woodbury County Fairgrounds holds a special significance to Kelsey since this is where she first fell in love with performing. “It’s awesome to be able to perform in front of my family and friends,” she said inside the music room set up in her parents’ home. “Everyone’s been so supportive of me and this is a way I’ll be able to give something back.” As her eyes dart to the horses in the back of the Klingensmiths’ rural Moville residence, Kelsey gives another reason for her hometown affection. “Guess I’m a country girl at heart,”

“It’s awesome to be able to perform in front of my family and friends. Everyone’s been so supportive of me and this is a way I’ll be able to give something back.” KELSEY KLINGENSMITH she said. “Always have been, always will be.” Her love of the rural lifestyle will be reflected in a song, “Country Mess,” which will be appearing on Kelsey’s soon-to-be-released second CD. In fact, Kelsey spent three weeks in June, recording material in Nashville as part of the still-untitled release, all under the watchful eye of Jimmy Nichols, musical director for country superstar Faith Hill. Befriending Kelsey’s family more than a year ago, Nichols has acted as a mentor for the burgeoning singer. “Jimmy got his start in show business when he was around Kelsey’s age,” Tammy Klingensmith noted. “Because of that, he connects with Kelsey like nobody else can.” Through Nichols, Kelsey has been able to use some of Faith Hill’s backup singers on her recording, be photographed by the photographer of Jason Aldean and record in the same studios as Reba McEntire. “Knowing that Reba recorded in the same studio as me is incredible,” Kelsey said. But, is it intimidating? Well, it would be if Kelsey wasn’t so self-assured. Writing music that comes from life, the country music singer seems more mature than her years. “I didn’t want to go to Nashville and have people treat me like a stupid, little kid,” Kelsey admitted. “Instead, everybody treated me like a peer.” But that isn’t to say that Kelsey didn’t enjoy pulling pranks on her mentor Nichols. “I’d hide the keys to his Mercedes all the time and hid behind doors in hopes of scaring him,” she recalled. “Yeah, I got him good.” Despite it all, Kelsey knows there is a time for levity and time for hard work. Fortunately, people are beginning to take notice. According to Tammy Klingensmith, her daughter has an open invitation

to try out for Fox’s “The X Factor” but Kelsey prefers taking her career a route similar to such idols as Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Martina McBride. “I want my music to have a message,” Kelsey explained. “That’s something that will never change.” Still Kelsey admits her school friends, at times, have a problem connecting with her. “I’ve been doing a lot of things quietly,” she said. “But as things begin to move faster, it will become harder to keep things under wraps.” As she prepares for her shot at

country music stardom, Kelsey knows she will always be the little girl who loved going to the county fair. “I’ve been going to the fair since I was a baby,” she said, reflecting upon past fairs. “I consider myself to be blessed to be able to perform at the fairs that I love.” KELSEY ON THE WEB For more information on local appearances by 13-year-old singer Kelsey Klingensmith or to order her CDs, check out






“The best thing is you walk around at the state fair and go up to a concession stand and ask for the fair queen discount and they’ll give you free food.”




20 QUESTIONS with the Iowa State Fair queen

Paris Schnepf Photograph provided | Text by Nick Hytrek

You don’t get much bigger than state fair queen in Iowa. To find out what the job entails, Nick Hytrek talked with Paris Schnepf, 18, rural Granville, who served as both O’Brien County Fair and Iowa State Fair queen. 1. What was it like to hear your name called last year? It was all a blur, really. It all happened so fast. They called my name, and I took a million pictures and the next thing I know I was in a building talking to the fair board about plans for the next week.

2. Was this something you had always wanted to do?

The best thing is you walk around at the state fair and go up to a concession stand and ask for the fair queen discount and they’ll give you free food.

8. How many times have you had your picture taken this past year? Oh, my gosh. I’m not kidding, a thousand times at the state fair. Adding up all the others – a lot.

I’d always wanted to run for O’Brien County Fair Queen since I’d been in 4-H. I took the opportunity to run for O’Brien County Fair Queen, then state fair queen.

9. How do you keep smiling?

3. What are the official duties of the state fair queen?

10. Who’s the coolest person you got to have your photo taken with?

Right after the crowning, I spent the next week at the fair making appearances at events. Throughout the year, I made several appearances. This summer, I’ll be gone to county fairs judging competitions.

4. How many events have you attended as fair queen?

It’s really tiring, but then you realize you’re having so much fun. The people you meet are awesome.

I did get to meet Maroon 5 and Train at the state fair. I would say Maroon 5 because those guys are fine-looking.

11. Were you able to parlay this into homecoming queen this fall?

Probably at least 20 so far. It’ll probably triple by the end of the summer.

I was on the homecoming court, but I was not the queen. My best friend won, and I was happy for her.

5. Are you required to attend them all or can you choose which ones you go to?

12. You’re the first state fair queen from O’Brien County. Did that make this any more special?

What happens is the state fair board sets up certain events I have to attend. County fair boards will contact me, and I can decide.

Yes. I can’t say enough about how supportive the local fair board has been. They threw a party for me when I got back from the state fair.

6. Do you attend events yearround?

13. What’s your favorite event you got to attend as queen?

Right after I was crowned, at Labor Day already I was in parades. I was in the Tulip Festival parade in Orange City this spring.

At the state fair, my favorite was the outhouse races. This summer, I’m looking forward so much to judging the county fair queen contests.

7. What kinds of perks does the state fair queen get at these events?

14. Were there any events you had to go to that you wished you

could have skipped?

Taking the pictures with the champion cattle at the state fair. It was awful. It was a million degrees in the pavilion. They have to set the calves up perfectly and get 20 people in the picture. When the last person gets in, the calf moves. It took about two hours to take pictures of five cattle. My mouth was so sore from smiling.

15. Will you be attending a lot of county fairs this summer? Yes. Pretty much starting after the Fourth of July, every day I’ll be traveling. I probably will hit at least 25.

16. When does your reign end? Aug. 11 will be the crowning of the 2012 Iowa State Fair Queen.

17. Are you ready to pass on the title or do you wish you could keep it a little longer? It’ll be bittersweet because it’s been so busy and hectic, but it’s one of those things you always want to hang onto. But all good things must come to an end.

18. Do you get to keep the crown? I do. That’s the most-asked question I get.

19. Do you get a free lifetime pass to the state fair or any other perks? That’s a good question. I should bring that up to the state fair board. I do have a brick on the Bill Riley Stage, so I’ll have a spot at the fair forever. I can say I’ll always be on that stage.

20. What’s the best memory you’ll take from being state fair queen? Probably just the friendships I’ve made. I’m part of a tradition that will go on for a long time. I’ll always hold the state fair close to my heart.




Home Grown & Proud to Live & Work in Siouxland




Dr. Laura Giese was born and raised in Sioux City , growing up in the Morningside Area. She attended Heelan High School and graduated in 2000. She then went on to spend the next 8 years at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, receiving her undergraduate degree in Biology in 2004 and her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree in 2008. In July of 2008, she joined Wheelock and Bursick Dentistry as an associate. Dr. Giese is married to her high school sweetheart, Bob Giese and has a son, Cal. Dr. Giese is committed to providing quality dental care for Siouxland.

Dr. Brian Bursick is a Sioux City native growing up in the Crescent Park area. He attended West High School and graduated in 1986. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the University of Nebraska Dental School in 1994. After graduation he practiced briefly in Sergeant Bluff, IA. In 1997 he joined Dr. Wheelock as an associate. In 2004 he became a business partner. Away from the office Dr. Bursick is busy with his family. He and his wife Kristy have three young sons. Dr. Bursick is devoted to delivering quality comprehensive dentistry to the people of his hometown, Sioux City, IA.

Dr. Wheelock established his own dental practice in 1977. It originally was only 2 blocks from its current location at 4100 Morningside Avenue. Dr. Wheelock was born and raised in Sioux City graduating from Sioux City Central High School in 1969. He went on to receive his Bachelors of Science degree from Briar Cliff College in 1973. He attended dental school at the University of Iowa and earned his Doctor of Dental Science degree in 1976. After graduation Dr. Wheelock returned to Sioux City. Dr. Wheelock is involved in his community & church. Dr. Wheelock is married to his college sweetheart, Marilyn, and has three adult sons and three daughters in law. He is the proud grandfather of five incredible grandchildren. Dr. Wheelock is proud to call Siouxland home and enjoys providing quality dental care to the community.

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smashing good time


A THAT CRASHES TOGETHER... Demo Derby fans – and family members – get behind the wheel


Text by Tim Gallagher

ANTHON, IOWA | THERE’S A SAYING that a family that plays together, stays together. What about one that crashes together? Bonds form there, too. They do within the Kollbaum family of Anthon. It’s where you find three demolition derby drivers living under one roof, tending to three different steering wheels. Aaron Kollbaum is involved in the tough truck competition at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville. He has been a demo derby participant for at least a decade.

Ashley Kollbaum of Anthon, Iowa, salutes the crowd after earning second place in the demolition derby at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville in August 2011. Kollbaum, 17, is taking part in the derby again this year.




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Marla Kollbaum got behind the wheel in the powder puff division about seven years ago at the Woodbury County Fair. The Kollbaums allowed daughter Ashley Kollbaum to join her mother in the powder puff division last summer. Ashley was only 16 at the time. She’s heading back for more in the 2012 edition of the local fair. “When the demo derby started last year, my mom parked right beside me and I talked to her right in front of the announcer’s stand,” Ashley said. “With all the people there, it was intimidating.” It is estimated that 2,000 spectators venture to Moville for the giant demolition derby that helps close the fair on Sunday evening each year. Similar crowds are seen elsewhere in Siouxland where the demo derby remains king. What is the attraction? Well, there’s the incessant noise of people gunning their engines in hopes of disabling another vehicle. There’s also the color, the decorative elements most cars exhibit (or don’t), and the fact you get to witness neighbor vs. neighbor, friend vs. friend and, very occasionally, mother vs. daughter. “Competing against your daughter is kind of scary,” says Marla Kollbaum. “I would have liked to have seen Ashley run last year, but my batteries came loose and sparked something inside my car.” Marla Kollbaum didn’t like having to pull out of the derby. But, doing so because of the sparks allowed her to watch Ashley earn second place. “My parents had told me that I couldn’t be afraid to hit another car right away,” says Ashley, a senior to-be at Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto High School. “But I was scared at first and just sat there. Then the guy who ran the derby came down and yelled, ‘You know you’re in a derby right?’” Ashley Kollbaum wasn’t used to operating a vehicle without power steering. She used her arm strength to get turning and her leg muscles to give it some gas. “And then I got hit,” she says. “That made me mad. So then I started hitting people.”

402-494-3844 AUGUST 2012 SIOUXLAND LIFE

Ashley Kollbaum of Anthon, Iowa, is shown competing in her first demolition derby. It took place at the Woodbury County Fair in Moville, Iowa, in August 2011.

The crowd, of course, turned up the volume with each ensuing hit. And soon, there were but a couple of cars remaining. When the dust, metal and rubber settled, Kollbaum had a second-place effort. She took home a trophy and $75. Her mother, by the way, also finished second in her first demo derby. “I was sore that night and the next day,” Ashley remembers. “My legs hurt because I practically had to stand up on the brakes.” The Kollbaums retired their cars for the season, then took a short trip to Adventureland in Des Moines. Come this August, the process begins again. It’s a summer highlight. Aaron’s truck had a transmission that was being fixed at a shop in Nebraska. Other than that, he and other friends and family members were getting the vehicles in working – and smashing – order. “We really don’t spend a lot of money on this,” says Marla, an instructor at the Iowa School of Beauty in Sioux City. “Aaron is a mechanic at S&S Equipment in Lawton and he trades pieces we need and his labor. We do some work here at home and some at the shop.” Watching her husband, Marla says, isn’t as nerve wracking as putting a dent in her daughter’s car. “We have more fun than anything,” she says. “We build these cars plenty safe, with roll bars. For us, it’s entertaining.” Well, most of the time. When pressed for any injury reports, Marla admits she was laid up for a week or so a few years ago. She was hit pretty hard at a Siouxland fair. Might have been at Moville, Onawa or Hawarden. She’s competed at all three places, as has Aaron. “I went to a doctor a couple of days later as I had bruised from my seat belt. Mainly, my muscles were sore,” she says.

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7/12/12 3:43 PM


carnival of fun



Text by Joanne


Photographs by Jim Lee

QUIMBY, IOWA | DELORES McDermott may look like everybody’s grandma, but don’t underestimate the petite lady in the booth. “I don’t get too much guff,” she said, while selling tickets for the McDermott Family Shows during Watermelon Days. “(Son) Dean is always teasing, saying, ‘If there’s a problem, take it to the ticket booth!’” she said. “Although one time at a River-Cade in Sioux City, a guy came up to the ticket booth and said, ‘Give me your money!’” she reminisced. “I yelled back at him, ‘Why?’ I guess that startled him because he left.” For the past 15 years, Grams – as she has been nicknamed by family and friends – has held court at the ticket booth for her family’s carnival business. “I started after my husband died in 1986,” she explained. “What else would




I be doing? Sitting at home? Alone?” But Grams isn’t the only McDermott on hand for the carnival. An assortment of her children, in-laws, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and maybe someday, a great-grandchild, help out with the family business. In fact, running the rides and food booths are four generations of McDermotts. It started in 1967 when Grams’ son Lawrence took a job with John Bauman Amusements at 15. He traveled with the carnival until the early 1970s. His brother Dean started helping out with amusements as an 8-year-old before joining full time at the age of 10. Then other family members started getting involved. Eventually Dean, 51, bought two amusement companies’ equipment. Lawrence, 60, joined him, buying some rides of his own. A sister, Vickie, owns some of the food stands. Her son owns the Octopus. Another brother Shane owns the Tilt-A-Whirl. Well, you get the idea of the family

involvement and Grams, mother of nine, grandmother of 20, great-grandmother of 27 and great-great-grandmother of one, wouldn’t have it any other way. “I started out as a babysitter for the others involved with the rides, games and food stands, and then got promoted to ticket seller,” she said, with a grin that spread from ear to ear. At age 81, she’s asked when she might retire. “I tell them I’m going to keep doing this as long as I am able,” she insisted. Grams confessed her favorite customers are those wide-eyed youngsters who are buying tickets for the rides. “Those little ones come up and sometimes, they might be short a few cents,” she said. “I’ll slip them the tickets, but I always tell them, ‘Next time, you come back with the right amount!’” Dean and Lawrence also have soft spots. “Lots of times, we’ll contact the police or the sheriff’s offices and ask them

Left: Children ride one of the McDermott Family Shows carnival rides during Watermelon Days. Center: Dean McDermott, owner of McDermott Family Shows. Right: Kiley Schoen and Elizabeth Bohlke, both from Akron, ride the Sizzler at the McDermott Family Shows carnival. Above: Delores McDermott sells tickets at the McDermott Family Shows carnival during Watermelon Days in Quimby.

to distribute tickets to folks who can’t afford them,” Dean said. “One time, in Battle Creek, Iowa,” Lawrence added, “they asked us if we would open an hour early just for a group of handicapped kids. We did.” In her younger years, you might have found Grams taking a turn on the TiltA-Whirl, but she’s embraced the tamer rides nowadays. “I like the Ferris wheel and I like the

swings,” she said. Sons Lawrence and Dean stay clear of the faster rides as well. “The last ride I was on was the Tilt-aWhirl in 1967,” Lawrence announced. “I do like the Ferris wheel,” Dean said. “It gives me a clear view of the midway and sometimes I say to myself, ‘Oh! I should move that.’” At the opening of Quimby Watermelon Days on June 29, Kiley Schoen and

Elizabeth Bohlke, both of Akron, Iowa, literally had their hair flying behind them as they rode the Sizzler – a first time for both girls. “People were just flying past us,” Bohlke said with a smile. “It went really, really fast,” Schoen gushed. The McDermott Family Shows, Dean explained, is a combination of family members, plus independent sellers who




travel with them year after year and operate 14 rides and 14 concessions. “We do about 30 events a year,” Dean estimated. “It’s great because you get to be outdoors and meet people and travel.” “Where else could you work with your whole family like this?” Lawrence said. But with those benefits come headaches. Sometimes. “It’s why I have no hair,” Dean said, as he placed his hand over a receding hairline and Lawrence laughed out loud. “But overall, I love the camaraderie.” he continued. “We have a great group who are always willing to help each other or jump in when there’s a need.”

Lawrence has spent a lot of time boosting the image of carnival workers and he believes his efforts have been successful. “The biggest change I’ve seen in this industry is people’s concept of us,” he said. “They drop their kids off knowing it’s a safe place for them. They trust us.” Son Dean may own the business and Grams might well be the bouncer for this operation, but Lawrence pointed out another mover and shaker making her way down the midway. “That’s my granddaughter,” he announced proudly, identifying 3-year-old Kaelyn Juelfs. “She really runs the show.”



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Left: People wander past the games at McDermott Family Shows during Watermelon Days in Quimby. Right: Lawrence McDermott, co-owner of McDermott Family Shows.

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THE FAIR LIFE creating

art with a chainsaw



Text by and photographs by John


CHAINSAWS AND COUNTY FAIRS are a match made in heaven, artistically speaking. When the sweeps of a chainsaw artist’s blade turn a big, boring log into a scary skeletal pirate, the fair crowd is mesmerized. Then the fairgoers await and applaud the carver’s next creation, an eagle or maybe an elf. It’s a common occurrence at county fairs throughout Siouxland and beyond. Which brings us to Jeff Klatt, a chainsaw sculptor from Storm Lake, Iowa, whose own viewing experience in 1990 propelled him into the business. Klatt’s Runaway Saws (“Art at Full Throttle”) is a 20-year fixture in Storm Lake and his creations, sculpted from tree stumps up to 18 feet high, are scattered throughout the community, easily located through maps available at the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce. “I was a welder at Ranco Fertiservice in Sioux Rapids building fertilizer equipment,” he said. “Then one day, a fellow who worked next to me said there was going to be a chainsaw artist up at the lake, and he asked me if I wanted to ride along. And I said, sure. “Then, I watched the guy and I thought, that’s pretty neat. He’s doing what he wants and when he wants and where he wants. And I thought, I want to do that when I grow up. I was probably about 34 then.” So Jeff grew up fast. Never having touched a chainsaw in his life, Klatt traded in an old 750 Honda motorcycle to a guy at work for a used John Deere chainsaw and just went out and started playing with it. “I was learning chainsaws and carving all at the same time. Just practice practice, practice,” he said. “When I first started this, I told myself I was going to carve my way out of Ranco, and it actually happened.” Sitting in the corner of his office is his

SAW ARTIST WOWS S AT COUNTY FAIR first piece, an “ugly head with ball bearing eyes” that took six or seven hours to carve, a crazy long time, he admitted. Today, Klatt could knock off a piece like that in half an hour to 45 minutes, and it would look a lot better, he said. If you caught his act during Storm Lake’s Fourth of July Parade, you know how accurate that claim is. He starts carving a log on a car trailer being pulled by his wife early in the parade. By the time he reaches the end of the route, his creation is done. So he heads back to the starting point, and rides through a second time to show what he has accomplished, this in a parade that lasts maybe a little more than an hour. The work can be dangerous, especially in a moving vehicle, but he has the experience now to tune everything out but the work at hand. And the chainsaw chaps he wears, kevlar protected, help keep him safe. It took Klatt a while to get established in this business. Ranco let him slip out for a month during the slow summers, without pay, to do the county fairs, the first one in 2002. And it wasn’t too long after that he was making enough money to leave Ranco. The work has always involved three parts, fairs, shop sales and going on site, what he calls “stump jobs.” “Most of it now is stump jobs and fairs,” he said. Every summer, he works somewhere between six and 10 county fairs, from the Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport to Westfair in Council Bluffs and the Clay County Fair in Spencer. “I’ve been doing fairs for about 10 years now, but that was hectic that first year,” he said. “I was just nervous. The wife and one kid went with me, and I’m surprised they were still speaking to me when we got home. It was nerve-wracking. That first year, I probably shouldn’t have been out there.” But even when the economy was at its worst, business never slowed down. While chainsaw artists in some regions complain they have nothing to do, many of them

Left page: Chainsaw in hand, Jeff Klatt of Runaway Saws in Storm Lake, Iowa, stands amidst an assortment of his artwork in his shop. Right page: Artwork by chainsaw artist Jeff Klatt of Storm Lake.

tend to do the same stuff over and over and are in a bit of a rut. Others, he noted, are just hobbyists, not interested in working that much. “Some of them don’t have a shop and some of them don’t go out and do stump jobs,” he said. One recent stump job at Ayrshire, Iowa, had him crafting a 14-foot family totem, working four days in the baking sun to craft a 10-foot ear of corn, with branches showing a little schoolhouse (complete with flagpole) and a football on the husks to display the family’s big interests, with the family initial etched in the kernels, their names and some musical notes in the base. It was the kind of creative challenge he enjoys. Something different. Working a county fair is hard, physical work, he noted. ‘You get there and they start early in the morning, and usually by the time you’re done, it’s 8 or 9 o’clock at night anyway, by the time you’re getting ready for the next day,” he said. “You’ve got to get there and get your stuff out and set up and do four carvings that day, no matter how hot or cold it is. They supply the wood. And my fee lately has been $850 a day and motels. And there’s got to be a minimum of three days at that. If it’s under that, my fee goes up.”

But he still loves the opportunity to make something new, even if he seldom has the time to relax and do some art on his own, like the skeletal pirate that sits in his shop. Klatt uses nothing but steel chainsaws. They’re good and dependable, but he can attach smaller carving bars on them, the size of a dime, for detail work. And when all is done, each of his creations is 98-99 percent chainsaw-carved, with just a little bit of sanding and grinding to polish them off. And the work still takes him to interesting places, like the time he carved a large tree in the middle of the state prison at Rockwell City, Iowa, as commissioned by the inmates for the Lions Club and its leader dog program, which involves the inmates in the early training stages.




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THE FAIR LIFE managing

the big show



Text by Dolly

A. Butz

THE WOODBURY COUNTY FAIR has always been the highlight of Dave Amick’s summer. As a child, he fondly recalled working the window at Elliot Creek Presbyterian Church’s food stand. Decades later, the Bronson, Iowa, church, which Amick and his family are members of, is still serving up burgers, brats, homemade pies and root beer floats at the fair. “I liked selling ice cream, but they didn’t let me in there a lot because they said I cut into the profit margin,” Amick, dressed in a light blue 2011 Woodbury County Fair T-shirt and gray baseball cap, said with a chuckle as he sat at his desk in the fair office just over a month before the start of the five-day event. Amick’s job as fair manager, which he has held for the past seven years, is a bit more intense than selling ice cream. In fact, the work never ends. After the 2012 fair comes to a close on Aug. 5, Amick and the 36-person Woodbury County Fair Association board of directors will start planning for 2013. A dinner for volunteers follows fairgrounds clean-up. The board meets in October to hold elections, while that same month the storage process begins. In December, the board travels to the Association of Iowa Fairs Conference and Annual Meeting to explore various entertainment options. MANAGER WITH MANY TASKS Amick works for and reports to the board of directors, which he was a member of for 20 years before becoming fair manager. The majority of his job involves coordinating various fair activities, programming and vendors, but come fair time he’s the go-to guy for everything.

Dave Amick stands among the buildings in “Old Town” village at the Woodbury County Fairgrounds. Amick is in his seventh year serving as fair manager this summer.

Don’t be surprised to see Amick painting one of the 43 buildings on the 63-acre grounds or even fixing the plumbing. His presence is so in demand at the fair he drives a green golf cart around the grounds to get from building to building. Amick, who will spend 18 to 20 hours at the fair per day, just doesn’t have time to walk. “You just go from one thing to another. That week will go that quick,” he said as he snapped his fingers. “You look back and say, ‘What did I do all week?’ People will ask you, ‘Did you see whatever in this building or that building?’ If there wasn’t a problem that took you there, you didn’t see it.” Amick fills in wherever he is needed, but he also said a sign of a good fair manager is surrounding himself or herself with a group of volunteers, of which he has 1,632. Last year, about a month before the fair was to start, a storm rolled through the fair grounds downing trees and damaging buildings. Repairs totaled thousands of dollars, according Amick. “Everybody pulled together and by the time the fair came, the average fair-goer never even realized that we had been through that,” he said. The aspect of the job he said he dislikes most is turning away commercial vendors who display their wares for fair-goers to see. He explained that only so many spots are available to vendors selling the same type of product. “Consequently you have to tell some people, ‘No.’ It’s very disappointing for them,” he said. “It’s difficult to deal with because you would like to be able to let everybody come and you just can’t do that.” Limitations on the camping space for

fair-goers, Amick said, is another tricky issue that comes up annually. More than 40 people are currently on a waiting list for a camping spot. The majority are 4-H families who need to be at the fair early in the morning and late in the evening to complete their chores. “That’s a difficult one we have to deal with every year, because as it is, the folks who already had a spot get first priority,” he said. “By the time they get off that list and into the camping spot, their kids are halfway through the 4-H program.” FAMILY FOCUS County fairs, Amick said, are the bestkept secret for family fun. He said there are so many affordable things for families to see and do at the fair that they could spend all day there. “It’s still the place that you can bring your whole family and you don’t have to worry about holding the hand of your child throughout the day,” said Amick, who served as Woodbury County sheriff for 12 years. “There’s so many things that they can do and enjoy.” From activities to entertainment, Amick said everything at the Woodbury County Fair is geared around 4-H. He said there are more small animals, such as sheep, rabbits and chickens shown at today’s fair than in the past. There are also more projects 4-H members can showcase at the fair today than there used to be. “I really think our fair has grown a lot and then at the same time, I think a lot of the things haven’t changed,” he said. “If you haven’t been to the fair in a number of years, take your family to the fair. If you do, I promise you, you will be back.”




THE FAIR LIFE everything

on a stick




Text by Earl


NOTHING SAYS FAIR FOOD better than the proverbial corn dog-on-a-stick or a “Nutty Bar” – a peanut-covered chocolate ice cream bar, also on a stick. So, what do you call deep-fried Twinkies, chocolate-covered Tiramisu or even fried butter, all served on a stick? Well, if you ask Gary Slater, CEO for the Iowa State Fair, that would be fair food-ona-stick technology taken to the extreme. According to Slater, the Iowa State Fair boasts nearly 200 food stands and more than 50 food items that are available in stick form. “What can I tell ya, people love food on a stick,” he explained. “It’s practical because it’s portable. There’s no need for plates or silverware and people can eat on the run.” Certainly, messy foods like cotton candy, caramel apples and ice cream bars have always been served on a stick. Joining their ranks are newer but still conventional foodson-a-stick such as corn dogs (in both meat and vegan form), Fair Squares (a Rice Krispies bar-on-astick) and a Monkey Tail (a chocolate-covered banana on-a-stick.) But a few decades ago, the ante was raised on the food-on-a-stick phenomenon. Still, the food choices were 28



variations on traditional fair food like an Octodog (a hot dog shaped into an octopus while on a stick), pork chops, even a Cornbrat (a bratwurst dipped in corndog batter) commanded concession space for fair-minded connoisseurs. And then, the gates came crashing down with what Slater calls the “deepfried movement.” “People discovered that foods-on-astick tasted better when it was deepfried,” he speculated. “Call it American ingenuity but our vendors were ready to meet the demands of our guests.” For Iowa State Fair goers, foods-on-astick can be relatively benign (for instance, fresh pineapples are dipped in funnel cake batter before being deep-fried) or fall into the category of what-the-heck-arethey-thinking? Falling smack dab in the latter category are such decadent treats as Snickers, Milky Ways and Ho-Hos, all smothered in funnel cake batter before being dunked into a deep-fried bath. Newer Iowa State Fair foods-on-a-stick include deep-fried peanut butter & jelly on-a-stick, chocolate-covered, deep-fried cheesecake on-a-stick and, in 2011 as a way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Iowa State Fair’s Butter Cow, fried butter on-a-stick. “It was sinful,” Slater said, laughing at the memory of butter being a snack food. If such treats seem like a cardiac attack just waiting to happen, he quickly points out that vendors try to use nontrans fat oil in which to deep-fry foodstuff.

Q&A WITH ‘FAIR FOOD GODDESS’ CANDICE NASH People may know Candice Nash as a morning DJ for KSUX radio but friends call her a “fair goddess.” “I may never get a sash or a crown like a fair queen,” she said with a laugh, “but as a ‘fair goddess,’ I get all of the foodson-stick I can eat.” Every summer, Nash, a fair board member, and her family attend the Plymouth County Fair, Woodbury County Fair, the Iowa State Fair and, finally, the Clay County Fair. “Yeah, I guess you can say I know a thing or two about food at a fair,” she said. This makes Nash the perfect person to discuss fair food. Why are there so many foods-on-a-stick? “Food’s more fun when you can eat while moving around. Also, the marketing is so clever and irresistible. At the Iowa State Fair, I always get the Hot Chicken Lips (breaded chicken breast, smothered in hot sauce and served with blue cheese) simply because I like to say I’m eating chicken lips.” What’s your favorite food-on-a-stick? “I love pineapple on-a-stick. Years ago, I had peaches on-a-stick at the Clay County Fair and haven’t been able to find it since. I’d love to have that again.” Why do food and fairs go so well together? “When people say fairs are just about livestock, they obviously haven’t spent much quality time at fairs. To me, fairs are all about family and friends, which means things will eventually revolve around food. There’s nothing better than spending some time, bonding over deep-fried cheesecake on-a-stick or a pork chop in-a-glove with your family.”

Hey, if you wanna go green, the Iowa State Fair also has a salad on-astick.This includes a host of veggies ona-stick that’s similar to the ones used on corn dogs and your choice of salad dressing. “We always like to provide variety at the Iowa State Fair,” Slater said. But even he admits that such fair fare can’t be construed as healthy grub. “Some of our foods-on-a-stick are simply once-a-summer-type foods,” Slater admitted. “I don’t think anybody would want to make a habit out of eating it.” That might be true but the Iowa State Fair also has hot bologna on-a-stick, Teriyaki beef on-a-stick and chocolate-covered key lime pie on-a-stick, so seconds may actually be in order. KSUX’s Candice Nash

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Woodbury County Fair Moville, IA





the winner is ...




Text by and photograph by John

Eleanore Lewis of rural Correctionville, Iowa, shows the her great-grandmother’s hat, which took grand-champion honors at last year’s Woodbury County Fair in the antique hats division. This was only the latest grand championship for the farm wife who has been competing for around 30 years.





BACK PROBLEMS AND AGE MAY have slowed her down a bit, but nothing can diminish the love Eleanore Lewis, 80, of Correctionvile, Iowa, has for the Woodbury County Fair. And she has a box full of ribbons, many of them grand champions, to attest to this. Eleanore’s last big prize came last year when she wore a hat that belonged to her great-grandmother to Easter Sunday service, then decided it would make a nifty entry in the antique hats division at her favorite fair. It won the grand championship. During an early July interview, Eleanore, said she was thinking about not entering anything this year, citing her age and health, which would end a grandchampion tradition going back 15-some years ... and a fair tradition that began about 1962. Then she started talking about the onions and potatoes from the garden that she and her husband Bob were growing. And that license plate her husband found that preceded a time when plates were dated. “And we’ve got some beautiful potatoes. I never saw such big potatoes for this time of year, and it takes seven of them (to enter). And we’ve got a lot of onions. And I’m trying to get some antiques lined up. And if I take anything in the canning (category), it will just be some onions that I dehydrate,” she said. Eleanore also expects to return as a Red Hatter in that particular fair competition, an interest she acquired a few years

ago because the woman who sponsors it is one of the girls she taught when she first moved to Anthon, Iowa, as an 18-year-old school teacher. Born in Akron, Iowa, she went to college in Sioux Falls where she picked up her teaching certificate after graduating from high school at the age of 16. Senior Citizen Day has been a “fun day” in recent years. She also loves the king and queen contests, especially during her 30 years of work as a 4-H leader when she would see members of her Anthon Advancers on the stage. She started doing 4-H when her three now-grown children participated, but she stayed involved long after. Then in 2006, she was elected by the Woodbury County Fair Board to the Iowa 4-H Hall of Fame, which led to a satisfying trip to Des Moines to receive the statewide honors, even if she had to wait to the end of the long awards show before officials got to “Woodbury County” in an alphabetical lineup. “Well, that’s been my life,” she said of her annual fair pilgrimage. “It’s kind of our vacation, I guess. I love doing this. And I judge at the Ida County Fair, open class.” During the height of her fair participation years, Eleanore would take about 24 canned things each year, getting a ribbon for each one, a reason that box of ribbons is so big. “I did a lot of canning. I’ve taken a lot of antiques, and I’ve also shown a lot of genealogy, scads of genealogy over the years. Each one gets a ribbon,” she said. “I had a grand champion in gooseberries once. Now, gooseberries are hard to can because a minute after they start to boil, they dissolve. They start cooking and then you can them right now, so they stay whole. I’ve made jellies, jams, a lot of canning here.” She was especially pleased to report how Bob scored one year with peaches, winning grand champion overall in the fruit category for his eight peaches. “They were huge and oh, they were nice,” she said. “They were delicious and the judges were supposed to just cut and take a slice out, and they said they had to eat the whole peach. It was an unusual thing.” But nobody is perfect. Eleanore confesses she will never take sewing submissions to the fair. “I’m just not a seamstress,” she said. As a young girl, Eleanore would go with her family to the Plymouth County Fair where her mother was a 4-H leader. She picked up a few ribbons back then, but she wasn’t in 4-H too many years. “Back then when I was a little girl, you didn’t have the money to do things. You didn’t drive back and forth to the county fair,” she said.

Her interest was fairly reignited when new hubby Bob took her to the Woodbury County Fair after their wedding in 1951. “One evening we decided to go to the fair, and I remember going hand-in-hand and seeing everything,” she said. “Well, not everything. It was all livestock because that’s what he liked. That’s the first time I remember the Woodbury County Fair. And every year, we went to the fair but we didn’t do any showing or anything. But after a couple of years, he went his way and I went mine because when we’d go together, it would be livestock, cattle, hogs and sheep, and I liked some of

that, but I liked the other things.” Then the kids came along and she got really involved in all that other stuff, and her life has never been the same.

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THE FAIR LIFE selling,

selling, selling




Text by Tim


SPENCER, IOWA | FOR MORE THAN 80 years, Billy Newcomb’s family has hawked wares at the Clay County Fair in Spencer. He returns this year, the 95th edition of “The World’s Greatest County Fair.” He would have it no other way. “Right out of high school I jumped into the family business (Newcomb Enterprises),” says Newcomb, 57, of Minnetonka, Minn. “Before that, school permitting, my folks had me on the fairgrounds delivering stock to the booth. I’ve been around fairs my entire life.” The family works mainly state fairs in the Midwest, going from North Dakota to Oklahoma and all points in between. Clay County is one of the select county fairs that sees the family set up shop. Why? It makes business sense with a county fair whose turnout exceeds all other county fairs. “For 81 years people have come to the Clay County Fair and have seen what we have,” Newcomb says. “Three years ago I got some shell shock when a gal and her daughter who have watched our demos and sampled our foods came back to purchase our salsa maker.” It wasn’t the gal and her daughter. It was the daughter. And, by now, she had a daughter herself. Now approaching his fourth decade, Newcomb is seeing yet another generation of customers. This year, fairgoers will see the salsa maker and one of Newcomb’s 35 to 40 demonstrations, each of which lasts 20 minutes. The key involves having the 9 p.m. demonstration just as fresh as the 9 a.m. showing. He and his staff stay atop their game by staying in motels (they don’t tent during a fair) and by eating and drinking the right way. That’s difficult when you’re surrounded by fried fair food half the calendar year. “In my early years I ate deep-fried pork fritter sandwiches,” he says. “As I wised up, I went to drinking lots of water and eating fruits and vegetables. For most fairgoers, they go to a fair once or twice per year and they can gorge

Billy Newcomb has sold salsa makers and other products at county and state fairs since 1972. His family has been in the business for nearly 90 years.

themselves. It’s a junk food junkie’s heaven.” What might be the hot ticket item this year? The question sends Newcomb into his enthusiastic pitch, saying the “Boom Box” is “hotter than a pistol right now.” The device, which is the size of a pack of cigarettes, has a wire that a consumer can attach to a smartphone, iPod or anything that makes music. “Out of the other end, approximately the size of a cap on a pop bottle is a stick diode, a pod with a sticker,” he says. “You stick this on to a cooler and the entire cooler becomes a speaker. You attach it to a cabinet and the cabinet becomes a speaker. We prep in a cargo trailer and our niece takes this and turns the entire trailer wall into a speaker.” That, various kitchen gadgets and the ever-popular salsa maker keep drawing customers to up to six booth units operated by Newcomb Enterprises. “People have to be shown a product that will save them time and money,”

says Newcomb, who works with brother Charlie Newcomb and sister Mary Hatcher in running the family trade. The business has its challenges and its rewards, just as it did when their father and his brother began selling threepiece kitchen sets 90 years ago. “We’re always looking for new items,” Billy Newcomb concludes. “We’ve been around so long that many of the manufacturers come to us with new products. And every couple of years my brother and I go to Hong Kong to see what’s hot.” When the fair season winds down, the family takes a break. And, they enjoy it. “You won’t get rich in this, but if you work at it six-and-a-half months per year you can do all right for yourself,” he says. “I have buddies at our high school reunions who tell me I’ve got it made because I only work half the year.” The seller pauses and finishes his thought. “I put more hours in during my six months than many people do in 12,” he says.





Lexi Kunkel and her brother Braeden Kunkel show small animals as 4-H projects for the Woodbury County Fair, such as this Nigerian Dwarf goat. Below: Lexi Kunkel has won ribbons for showing small animals at the fair. She is shown here with a mini Rex rabbit.

care of the animals








Text by Joanne


Photographs by Laura Wehde

LAWTON, IOWA – COUNTY FAIRS conjure up images of big tractors, large cattle, oversize farm equipment. Lexi Kunkel believes good things come in small packages at the Woodbury County Fair. “I am proud of my horse,” the 13-yearold clarified. “But I really like to show the smaller animals.” Lexi will show ducks, chickens and goats in addition to participating in a variety of other competitions with dozens of others as the fair runs from Aug. 1-5 at the Moville Fair Grounds. Over the last several months, young people from 10 to 21 have fed, trained and nurtured their animals in hopes of winning that prized purple ribbon. The chickens Lexi prepares for competition are Cochins, known for their puffy feathers and pleasant dispositions. “I feed them cracked corn,” she explained of their diet. “I also have to trim their toenails and beaks so they look good. I bathe them so there are no bugs on them and check their wings so there are no breaks in the feathers.” Remember the children’s book, “The Velveteen Rabbit”? Lexi shows mini Rex rabbits, noted for their unusually dense, plush and velvet-like fur, just like the main character in the book. “I took champion last year with one of

my rabbits,” she said. “You have to make sure their body is nice and round, their tails sticks out right, and they have clear eyes and ears.” “But my favorite rabbit is a Polish,” she added, referring to the small breed which resembles a compact ball of fur with large eyes, short ears and a twitching nose. “I think it’s my favorite because it was my first. I think I’ve had him for five years. And he really likes to be held.” Lexi’s ducks strongly resemble mallards with their green heads, but are actually Call Ducks, a Hobby breed. “They eat much the same as the chickens and I have to prepare them for showing the same way,” she said. In addition to Lexi, brother Braeden, is in the midst of fair preparations with his goats and chickens. “On a goat, you have to make sure its back is straight and if it’s a girl, that its bag is practically perfect,” the 16-year-old said. “You groom them, too, and I feed them sweet feed and cracked corn.” Braeden tends to his chickens much the same way his sister does. “You have to use a three-bath method for them,” he explained. “The first one is a bucket of water, followed by a waterivory mixture and then a rinse. It helps shine the feathers.” The children of Jeff and Tracy Kunkel have been active with the 4-H Banner Boosters since each entered fourth grade. The pair came naturally into the organization , since Mom was active in the program as a young person and continues to serve as a 4-H leader. “I can’t say enough about 4-H and the life skills it teaches children,” Tracy Kunkel said. Of the animals, Lexi thought the chickens were the easiest to prepare for the show. Braeden disagreed.

“I think the goats are easier,” he said. “But maybe that’s because I like doing it. You do get attached to them.” Last year, Lexi and Braeden did well at the fair with several ribbons. This year, they felt confident of repeat wins. “I do it because I love animals,” admitted Lexi, who hopes to be a veterinarian someday. “My advice to someone who would want to show an animal at the fair is to get one you like and spend time with it,” Braeden said. “That’s the best part.”

Top: Lexi Kunkel cradles her Polish rabbit at her Lawton, Iowa home. Bottom: She and her brother show small animals as 4-H projects for the Woodbury County Fair, such as this Nigerian Dwarf goat. Left: Braeden Kunkel talks about the small animals he raises as 4-H projects for the Woodbury County Fair.


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veterinarian’s concern




Text by

Dolly A. Butz

WHEN AN ANIMAL BECOMES sick or injured at the Plymouth County Fair, fair officials call veterinarian John Conley to the barn over the loud speaker. Whether a pig has indigestion or a cow is about to give birth, an audience is usually standing around gawking as Conley examines and treats the animal. “When you get there, there’s people lined up waiting to see what you’re going to do,” said Conley, who will serve his 52nd year as fair veterinarian this summer. “It’s a morbid curiosity.” Conley, who also gives rides to fairgoers on his Belgian draft horses, arrives at the fairgrounds about 6:30 a.m. each day of the fair. He stays on the premises until 10 p.m., with the exception of a trip or two back to his Le Mars practice, Town and Country Veterinary Clinic. “Our primary function is to make sure the animals are treated right in a humane way. We won’t tolerate somebody beating an animal or whipping them,” he said. “And make sure the animals are healthy. We certainly don’t want to see a sick animal at the fair and expose other animals to something.” When the cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry and rabbits arrive at the fair, Conley checks for lameness, nasal discharge and coughing. He doesn’t take temperatures or listen to the animals’ lungs unless they’re exhibiting signs of illness. “The biggest problem at the fair is usually the first day or two with animals getting acclimated to different surroundings,” Conley said as he performed a rectal exam on a mare in an outbuilding just across a gravel driveway from his office. The brown horse, suspected of being pregnant, neighed and stomped her hooves. “Whoaaaa gal,” Conley reassured her. Fair animals might look comfortable lying in the hay chewing their cud, but Conley said being on exhibit in new surroundings among other strange animals and people can be very taxing. “I think it’s a lot more stressful than



“Our primary function is to make sure the animals are treated right in a humane way. We won’t tolerate somebody beating an animal or whipping them.”

JOHN CONLEY Veterinarian

what people think it is,” he said. One of the biggest problems fair animals face is the heat. Conley said temperatures are normally in the 90s as animals wait in trailers to be unloaded and weighed. He said some become excited and get loose. “The animals get anxious and they’re hot,” he said. “We’ve got 100 cattle coming in. Ninety-five percent of them will probably be broke to lead, well disciplined, handled. Then we always have a small percentage, ‘Dad showed me how to lead this one yesterday.’” Using tranquilizers, once a common way to calm down fair animals, Conley said is illegal. Thirty or 40 years ago, when tranquilizers were still being used, Conley recalled a man asking him if he would tranquilize his calf. Conley didn’t want to administer a tranquilizer because the calf had just arrived at the fair. He gave the calf two CCs of sterile water, and a couple hours later it was lying down. “Most of the time, if the cattle are excited and you get them weighed


and get them into the stall, get a fan on them, in a couple hours they settle down and you really don’t need anything,” he said. Besides the elimination of tranquilizer use, the decline in the spread of diseases, especially among hogs, is another change Conley has witnessed over the years at the fair. He said hogs generally go to slaughter before they develop diseases like acute swine erysipelas, which has an incubation period of three to five days. Conley said he recalls a few hogs coming in with the oftentimes fatal illness that causes red splotches on the skin and high fevers. The sun and heat are bigger concerns than disease, according to Conley. Usually the animals are OK, he said, if they’re sprayed down with water and cooled by fans. “We’ve had a few hogs die that got overheated. Particularly if they put them in a north/south shed and the sun comes in low, the pigs can’t get away from the sunshine,” he said. “We’ve been awfully lucky.”

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7/12/12 4:32 PM


fair emergencies




Text and photo by

John Quinlan

SOUTH SIOUX CITY | When motivational speaker Matt Foley angles for sympathy by explaining how he lives in a van down by the river, it’s funny stuff ... at least as presented by comic Chris Farley in some classic “Saturday Night Live” sketches. Living in a van down by the river might not be funny to someone unable to find better accommodations. But for Deanna Beckman and Pam DeVries, spending the week of the Dakota/Thurston County Fair & Rodeo, sitting under an awning attached to a large, non-airconditioned, 18-foot trailer is a pretty wonderful thing, even if they’re not all that close to the Missouri River. Beckman, deputy director of the South Sioux City/Dakota County Emergency Management Agency, and DeVries, director of the Dakota County Health Department, have bonded over the past few fair years while manning the big red health trailer with “Dakota County” on it during county fair week in July, doing their best to keep the fair safe and healthy. “We keep kind of working where they want to put us, so that the crowd sees us the best,” Beckman said of the locations picked by the fair board. Last year, the trailer was located between





the livestock barns, the year before next to the exhibits building. They weren’t sure where the trailer would be this summer. “We sit outside,” DeVries said. “It is a very long day down there, but we enjoy it. We’re there for the people.

“There is an area, if it was ever used as a command system, you could sit in there and do maps in there and put easels up, to get out of the weather. But when you go into the trailer, both sides all the way down have shelving that’s built into it which has Rubber Maid tubs that have all of our equipment and

supplies. Last year, when the weather was so warm, they sat outside under the awning, with a fan, “and we did OK,” Beckman said. “We do meet a lot of people, and there are slow periods where we do a lot of visiting and planning and discussing, and also do reading,” DeVries said. “I always have the laptop so I can work. There’s always something going on.” The radio also gives them instant contact with law enforcement and health authorities, should the need arise, though they noted that with a sheriff’s office booth nearby, additional help is seldom required. “We watch the weather. We always have a laptop out there with the weather pulled up on it, so we can always watch the weather for the parade committee,” Beckman said. And if we’ve got bad weather coming in, we can get a head start on what we’re going to do, like keep the bands from up and having their instruments and stuff destroyed. “We have first aid supplies, and we always have a cooler of ice water.” Beckman said the biggest concern every year is the weather, the heat, tornadoes and thunderstorms that affect public safety. Heat exhaustion was a major concern last year, with temperatures in the hundreds, she said. And kids working with large animals, no matter how skilled they have become, are subject to occasional accidents, “getting stepped on and stuff.”

“We watch the weather. We always have a laptop out there with the weather pulled up on it. So we can always watch the weather for the parade committee. And if we’ve got bad weather coming in, we can get a head start on what we’re going to do, like keep the bands from up and having their instruments and stuff destroyed.”

command station.” It also saw extensive use during the summer flooding of 2011. And it is a regular presence at such community celebrations as Hubbard Hoot Owl Days and Cardinal Festival Days in South Sioux City. Beckman said she and DeVries work closely with the sheriff’s department and fair board, Sheriff Chris Kleinberg, in particular, when writing the fair’s plan. “I have developed a disaster fair plan, working with the fair board on different ways that will help the people who will be attending the fair. We have decided on different evacuation routes if we would have an incident and would have to evacuate people,” Beckman said. Years ago, the health department had little presence at the county fair, DeVries said. But working in recent years with Beckman, they have succeeded in making the Big Red health trailer a real presence at this Nebraska fair.

DEANNA BECKMAN And with no suitable tornado shelters at the fairgrounds, just off Highway 77 in South Sioux City, they need to alert people so they can find appropriate shelter. The trailer, purchased through grant funds, was initially set up as an emergency response command center and housed by one of the local fire departments. “People will know this is where you’re going to start,” DeVries said, “And the fire departments all know where it is, know how to access it if they ever need it. Some of the fire departments have used it in exercises, set it up as a

FIGHTING THE HEAT The following tips for preventing heat stroke and heat exhaustion were prepared for the Dakota/Thurston County Fair by the Dakota County Health Department. PREVENTING HEAT STROKE: • Keep cool. Take frequent breaks when working or playing outdoors in extreme heat. • Wear light-colored clothes and hat. They reflect heat from the sun. • Avoid strenuous work or sports activities during the intense sunlight hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day such as water, juice or sport drinks.

• Do not drink caffeinated drinks or alcoholic beverages. They accelerate the effects of heat stroke. PREVENTING HEAT EXHAUSTION: • Keep cool... • Wear light-colored clothes... • Avoid strenuous work... • Drink plenty of fluids...









Text and Photograph by




Garrett Bowder, a 17-year-old Pender, Neb., resident, took home a first place award at the 2011 Iowa State whistling contest. It was the fourth time he took top honors for his whistling abilities.

Earl Horlyk

At the Iowa State Fair, you can win a blue ribbon for having the best livestock, best craft, even the best apple pie. But did you know you can pick up a blue ribbon for the ability to whistle everything from “Sweet Georgia Brown” to “Stars and Stripes Forever”? That’s what Garrett Bowder, a 17-yearold Pender, Neb., student did in 2011. His whistling proficiency snagged him a first-place finish in the age 17 and under category, making it Bowder’s fourth blue ribbon win in four tries at the statewide whistling competition. “Every year I’ve gone to the Iowa State Fair, I’ve ended up in the whistling contest,” the self-assured Pender High School student explained, adding he intends to enter the Iowa State Fair whistling competition in August, this time in the adult division. So how did the champion whistler get his start? The sixth youngest out of a family with seven children, it began after Bowder was razzed by his older siblings. “I was 4 and my older brothers and sisters were teasing me about not being able to whistle,” he remembered. Anxious to prove them wrong, Bowder began practicing ... all the time. It didn’t matter if the music was pop, patriotic or polka, Bowder knew he could whistle to it. “I can’t whistle to rap or to some rock and roll,” he stated. “Outside of that, I discovered I can whistle to just about anything.” This willingness to whistle has been both a blessing and a curse for the

outdoor people in Bowder’s life. “Garrett’s been forbidden to whistle in the classroom,” noted his mom Lisa Bowder. “They say it’s a distraction to the other kids.” But Bowder continues to whistle at home, at Pender High School wrestling tournaments, at his family’s dinner table and even in his sleep. “Oh yeah, Garrett whistles in his sleep,” Lisa Bowder said with a shrug. “It happens all the time.” This doesn’t surprise Bowder who said there’s a musical beat constantly in his head. “When there’s music playing,” he said, “I can’t help but whistle to it.” And as long as he keeps on picking up honors, Bowder said he has no intention to stop. Are there things that can trip up even the most talented of whistlers? Sure, but they can’t keep Bowder down for long. “Garrett can whistle through coughs, cold sores and chapped lips,” Lisa Bowder said. “Wind blowing into a bad sound system is the only thing that can impact his whistling.” Well, that and Bowder’s 13-year-old brother Leland. “Leland loves to make goofy faces when Garrett performs,” Lisa Bowder admitted. “We try to keep him away from the audience because of that.” Is there a song that Bowder’s especially proud of learning to whistling? “Sure, that’s ‘Dueling Banjos,’ which is a very complex song to perform,” Bowder said. Performing at a charity function in Norfolk, Neb., Bowder said he met a magician friend of the late Johnny Carson, longtime host of “The Tonight Show” and a Norfolk native. “The magician said if Johnny Carson was alive, I’d be a shoo-in for an appearance on ‘The Tonight Show,’” Bowder said, proudly. That vote of confidence might give Bowder the courage to audition for the NBC talent competition “America’s Got Talent.” “I’ve thought about it,” he said. “Who knows? Someday I might try out for it.” But Bowder knows he has time and he has to keep his lips ready for the Iowa State Fair. “It was fun winning the kids categories,” he said. “It would be awesome to take home a blue ribbon ribbon in the adult category as well.”

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ask a professional Q: Doctor, I always wake up in the morning and don’t feel rested. Why is that? A: That’s a great question! While a lack of proper

sleep, which is between 7-8 hours, is typically to blame, there’s another culprit that typically goes unchecked: your pillow. When was the last time that you changed your pillow? It’s a common question that we ask our patients, because if your muscles can’t relax and allow you to count those sheep, you’ll be tossing and turning all night, keeping your muscles, tendons, and ligaments tight – and tender. Waking up without that rested Dr. Joel feeling? A great place to start is looking at your pillow. Pistello, DC When we recommend a pillow, it’s not as easy as simply saying, “This pillow is the best!” Indeed there are a lot of options, shapes, colors, thicknesses, and prices out there. We recommend setting the last option aside until you find something that you are comfortable with – and then remembering you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep. What IS most important is that you get a pillow that will support how you sleep. Do you primarily wake up on your back, side, or stomach? Let’s get the last position covered first: if you are a stomach sleeper, it’s time to turn over. Try to fall asleep on your back or side, as sleeping face down not only contorts your neck by twisting it, but keeps it in a potentially painful degree of extension every night. The next best position is on your side. For this position, you want a higher pillow, about the thickness of your shoulder to your neck, so that the neck stays in perfect position, nice and straight all night. Keep a pillow in between your legs too, to ensure that your lower half doesn’t twist and turn too in the night, giving you that achy low back feeling in the morning. By far the best position is to sleep on your back. While it may feel uncomfortable, it’s the best for your neck, keeping a good curve in it, allowing it to fall back and truly relax. Many cervical pillows have a weird curve shape that is higher on one end and lower on the other. These are going to be the best to get a good night’s sleep. They come in various thicknesses, so have someone size it up for you. Now the real question: what if I toss and turn during the night? Do you need two different pillows? Three different pillows? If, after a month with your new pillow (properly fitted), you still feel yourself tossing and turning, it’s time to take a look at your mattress. And that is a whole different question altogether. Always feel free to stop by and let us take a look at your pillow, let us help you sleep a little easier!

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HEALTH those

pesky insects


Dr. Michael Harder


Dolly A. Butz

MOST SUMMER INSECTS ARE JUST pesky bugs, but the stings and bites of a few could land you in the doctor’s office or worse, the ER. During the summer, Michael Harder, a family practice physician at Mercy Singing Hills Clinic, 3520 Singing Hills Blvd., said he sees a spike in patients needing treatment for infections associated with bug bites. “Mosquito bites, spider bites, sometimes flea bites are common,” he said. “A lot of times you don’t know what the specific bite is from. It’s hard to tell just by looking at a bite.” West Nile virus, although not grabbing headlines as it did in the past, is

still a concern in Siouxland, according to Harder. “There’s still cases of West Nile that show up,” he said. “There’s still a threat of it, it just doesn’t get as much attention.” West Nile virus is a disease spread by mosquitoes that causes fever, headache, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes in mild cases. Symptoms of more severe cases include neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, convulsions and even paralysis. Although mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases, Harder said, bees can pose an even more dangerous threat to someone who is allergic to bee venom.




He explained that a bee sting could cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock - a severe whole body reaction that includes difficulty breathing, swelling of the neck or tongue and sweating. “Anaphylactic reactions can sometimes even require a trip to the emergency room,” Harder said. “If you’re not physically allergic to them, they leave annoying stings with redness and a light reaction.” Fly and ant bites generally don’t cause any serious problems, according to Harder, but he said scratching any kind of insect bites could lead to a secondary infection. Proper procedure for treating any insect bite, Harder said is to wash the area with soap and water to prevent infection. Oral antihistamines, according to Harder can be effective at relieving swelling and itching; and Calamine lotion can also be soothing. Redness, crusting and oozing from the area are signs of infection that require a trip to a doctor, who will prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic, according to Harder.

“Anything that has DEET in it is your best bet. DEET lasts the longest and it’s relatively safe.” DR. MICHAEL HARDER

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KEEPING INSECTS AWAY There’s no universal repellant that keeps all insects away. “Anything that has DEET in it is your best bet,” Harder said of the chemical product known to effectively repel mosquitoes. “DEET lasts the longest and it’s relatively safe.” The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend applying DEET to a child under the age of two months. Repellants with 10 to 30 percent DEET are safe and effective for older children, according to Harder. Natural insect repellants on the market include BioUD, which is derived from wild tomato plants, and PMD, a product with lemon eucalyptus as its active ingredient. Harder said insect repellants won’t work on stinging insects, such as bees and wasps that sting out of selfdefense. “They’re stinging because you’re getting too close to the hive,” he said. “Insect repellants like DEET don’t generally work on those.”

ADVICE Medical


‘DOC, I’VE GOT A QUESTION …’ answers to your medical questions

MEET THE DOC Dr. Jennifer Haden is a resident physician at the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation, a family medical residency program. She grew up on her family farm in Northwest Iowa where they raised corn, soybeans, hogs and cattle. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa and her medical degree from Des Moines University. She and her husband reside near Sioux City.

My son grinds his teeth at night. Is there anything I can do? What is it: Rhythmic grinding of the teeth that typically occurs during sleep or while at rest. How common is it and when does it happen: 35-50 percent of infants and young children grind their teeth, and it starts around age six months when the baby teeth come in and again around 5 years when the permanent teeth come in. Why do kids do it: Could be from teething, normal jaw growth, earache, misalignment of the teeth or jaw, or maybe a self-soothing technique. Can be a rare sign of pinworm infection (emphasis on rare!). Typically doesn’t cause a problem, but: it can cause excess wear of the teeth and result in problems such as pulp exposure, cavities, tooth fractures or TMJ (jaw) pain. What to do: Extra soothing techniques at bedtime (warm bath, cuddling as they fall asleep), use weight appropriate acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For older children with permanent teeth, they may benefit from a mouth guard- fitted by dentist. What is “gripe” water? My baby has colic and someone told me to give it to him. Colic is defined by the “rule of three” - crying for more than three hours/day, for more than three days/week, and that lasts for three weeks in an infant

who is well fed and otherwise healthy. Real medical/organic causes for excess crying account for less than 5 percent of colic cases. Take your child to the doctor to make sure there is no medical cause for colic. Sixty percent of colic resolves by three months and 80-90 percent by four months of age. Colic occurs at the same rate for breastfed and formula fed infants. Also most infants do not need to switch formulas. Gripe water is an herbal remedy that may include any of a variety of herbs and herbal oils, such as cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon balm, licorice, peppermint and yarrow. However, none of the formulations sold are FDA approved or validated, and in some studies the solution has been found to have harmful ingredients in it or higher concentrations of ingredients than listed that could lead to harmful effects. Just remember, you are not doing anything wrong if you have a colicky baby. Stay calm, take breaks from the child, and get help if you need it.

How can I get more fiber in my diet? Are there things that boost this? Fiber is a substance that is not digested or absorbed, and it stays in the intestine to modulate digestion of other foods and affect stool consistency. Fiber can help with constipation or diarrhea, reduce risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, and help control blood glucose levels. We need 20-35 grams of fiber in our diet daily. You can add fiber in your diet by using things like Metamucil or Citrucel. You can also increase your intake of foods high in fiber. You can look on the Internet for listings of fiber contents of foods – and remember – the less processed the better! An apple is better than apple sauce, and apple sauce is better than apple juice.

WHAT KINDS OF HEALTH QUESTIONS DO YOU HAVE? Submit your questions and they may be used in this monthly feature. Write to Siouxland Life at 515 Pavonia St., Sioux City, Iowa 51102.




I have developed a “turtle” head from looking at the computer. And I know it’s causing me to have neck pains. Are there exercises that could fix this? The first thing to do would be to look at the ergonomics of your desk/ computer area. Make sure you are sitting in a good quality computer desk chair with lumbar support. Sit with your rump slid all the way to the back of the chair and have both feet on the ground. The computer screen needs to be at eye level so you aren’t hunching down or bending over to see the screen. Consciously keep your shoulders back and neck in a neutral position. Also about every hour you should take a break from computer work and do neck stretching and range of motion exercises. Your mother was right- sit up straight!

Beware Foreclosure ‘Bargains’ It’s an unfortunate result of the recession — many families haven’t been able to keep up with their mortgage payments and have lost their homes to foreclosure. And foreclosed homes often sell for less than market rates, making them seem like a bargain to buyers who are used to the inflated prices of a few years ago. But comparing a new home to a foreclosure on price alone is a mistake. You can’t put a dollar value on your peace of mind, safety, financial reserves and time — all of which could be in jeopardy if you buy a foreclosed home. For example, a foreclosure could have legal issues. Before buying a foreclosed home you will have to do thorough research — or hire a title company or lawyer — to make sure there aren’t any additional financial or legal liabilities attached to the home. There may be liens on the property for unpaid taxes, home owners’ association dues, or the home may have been put up as collateral on other loans that weren’t paid. You could become liable for thousands of dollars of debt you weren’t aware were attached to the foreclosed home. As soon as you take ownership of a foreclosed home, anything that breaks or any problems that arise are your responsibility. This could cost you lots of time and money that you may not have budgeted for. With a new home, maintenance won’t be an issue for a while with the brand new 46


appliances and systems. And if something does go wrong in the first year, there is often a new home warranty that guarantees repair or replacement. Foreclosed homes also often haven’t been taken care of by former owners who knew they were going to lose the home. In some cases vandals, thieves or even the owners have damaged the home, removed appliances or torn apart walls to remove copper pipes that are valuable as scrap metal. A foreclosed home could have been sitting vacant for months or years, and if it wasn’t properly secured, there could be significant damage from water, mold, weather or pest infestations. It could cost you thousands of dollars and a lot of time to bring a home that was allowed to deteriorate back to a livable condition. You also don’t have to spend time or money changing someone else’s design preferences with a new home. No tearing down wood paneling, repainting walls, or replacing outdated flooring. Your preferences are included as the home is built, and they are there waiting for you the day you unpack your boxes. Finally — and most importantly — don’t forget safety. New homes have been constructed under a strict set of codes and standards, and have to be thoroughly inspected before the certificate of occupancy is issued and you


are allowed to close the sale and move in. With a foreclosure, you don’t know how many renovations or repairs have been made over the years, or who made them. There could be faulty wiring, weakened structures, or other conditions that could be dangerous and costly to bring up to safe and modern standards. When you are looking for a place to keep your family safe and to build a lifetime of memories, it may be well worth paying a higher upfront cost to get convenience, modern features and peace of mind — and avoid the potential pitfalls of a foreclosure that could turn your dreams of homeownership into a nightmare. To find new home builders in the Siouxland area, visit html.

Bob Wilcke President Bob Wilcke Construction



Bruce Miller




AFTER FINISHING THE LAST chapter of one of the “Clan of the Cave Bear” books, my dad put it down and said, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m never going to read another book again.” What? I asked. Never read another book again? Yup, said the man who was never without a paperback. “That was just stupid. I’ll get enough reading from newspapers and magazines.” And, true to his word, Dad never read another book. After someone laughed when he fell during a senior citizens bowling league, he put down the ball and said, “That’s it,” and never bowled again. He turned over the car keys, too, after he failed to look when backing out of a parking spot and dinged another car. “Mom can drive,” he said. (This from the man who was so thrilled to get a driver’s license at 80 he came into the house yelling, “Four more years, baby. Four more years.”) He checked hunting and fishing off his list, too, even though it wasn’t a brush with mortality that prompted the move. “I’m just tired of them,” he said. He got rid of his guns, gave away his rods and reels. Dad wasn’t limiting his options. He just knew better than the rest of us. In his 50s, Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and had a kidney removed. The day he got out of the hospital, he threw away his cigarettes, boxed up his pipes and said no to smoking. True to his word, he never smoked again. He had an ability I don’t – the ability to say “when.” When he closed doors, others

opened wider. Retired, he and his older brother spent more time together, laughing about their childhood, reminiscing about life on the farm. The two would go for rides in the country, eat big pieces of pie and visit old friends who were housebound. He liked going to church, too, even though he wasn’t baptized until he was an adult. Ushering, greeting and chatting over coffee, he approached Sunday duties like his job – methodically, efficiently, completely. He loved talking with people and whenever he and Mom were out for dinner, he’d strike up a conversation with someone sitting nearby. “Ray, sit still,” Mom would say. “How are you going to learn anything if you don’t talk to people?” he’d ask. “Don’t be so timid. You’ll learn something.”

In his late 70s, he donated his Army uniforms, photos and memorabilia to a museum, reasoning other people needed to enjoy them as much as he did. In his 80s, he wondered if he should buy a new uniform so he could participate in parades as one of the last World War II veterans. (Mom prevailed; he didn’t get the uniform. We didn’t have to worry about 21-gun salutes.) A week before he died, he talked about trips he wanted to take and things he wanted me to do. He still had ideas. But he also knew when it was time. When he died, he had accomplished plenty. And, best of all, he left behind a great message: Know when it’s time and move on. What lies ahead may be even better. Oh, to have that faith…and hope.

Photograph by Laura Wehde




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Siouxland Life Magazine - August 2012  

A guide for living in Siouxland

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