For the 88th straight year, youths from nine area counties will get the chance to display their talents at the Fremont 4-H Expo at Christensen Field beginning on Wednesday.
Though the annual 4-H Expo has a long history in Fremont, for many years it was known as the Fremont 4-H Fair.
According to Fremont 4-H Expo Board President Kevin Prinz, the recent name change was made to avoid confusion about the event, with “exposition” being a better descriptor for the range of activities held at the annual event.
“The reason we did this is because when you say ‘the fair’ everyone thinks it’s the Dodge County Fair or something like that,” he said. “When it was down at Memorial Park many years ago, it was like a traditional fair with a carnival and all that. But now, it’s a showplace for livestock and static exhibits, so we thought exposition fit better.”
The Fremont 4-H Expo runs from July 11-14 at Christensen Field with nine counties of 4-H clubs being represented. Those nine counties include: Burt, Butler, Colfax, Cuming, Dodge, Douglas, Sarpy, Saunders and Washington.
This year’s Fremont 4-H Expo Grand Marshal is Dan Mowinkel, who along with being a longtime 4-H Expo Superintendent and FFA adviser at Logan View High School, has been attending the annual expo for longer than he can even remember.
“As I was thinking about it and looking back, I’ve been involved with the Fremont Expo my whole life,” Mowinkel said. “I’m the youngest of six children and we moved to Cuming County when I was 11 months old and my older brothers and sisters immediately showed at Fremont Fair when it used to be down at the armory.”
Mowinkel added that, besides the four years he attended University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study agricultural education, he has attended the Fremont 4-H Expo every single year of his life.
After watching his older siblings show at the expo, Mowinkel spent his youth showing dairy cattle at the event. After attending West Point High School and then UNL, Mowinkel returned to his roots as he began his now three-decade career at Logan View High School.
“The best part of it during my showing days was being with other members of your county and just competing,” he said. “It was always the camaraderie and family orientation of the 4-H approach that I have always appreciated and admired.”
As an adult, along with serving as swine superintendent at the expo for over a decade, Mowinkel continued his involvement through his two children Danielle and Derek, who showed beef cattle, sheep and swine along with being involved with static exhibits as well.
“When they are little, there are smiles on their faces when they are going into the arena, and as a parent you just take a lot of pride in that,” Mowinkel said. “When the expo season comes, you forget all those days where you may have been battling to get the kids to go out and wash the animals, or breaking the lead that first time.”
Mowinkel’s duties as Grand Marshal include crowning the king and queen and serving as a representative of the expo during the annual John C. Fremont Days Parade on Sunday.
While 4-H clubs and the Fremont 4-H Expo are a great opportunity for area youth to develop an agricultural background, Prinz says it does a whole lot more for kids.
“It really develops their leadership skills and just helps them succeed in a lot of different aspects of life,” he said. “You sit down and get one of those kids across the table from you and start looking at one of their resumes, they are very impressive.”
Prinz says that while showing animals is, and continues to be a large part of 4-H, the organization has changed a lot in the past decade and continues to provide a wide variety of opportunities and activities.
“There are so many opportunities as far as what your choices are to exhibit when you get into the static stuff,” he said. “You can get into rocketry, cooking, sewing, shooting sports all sorts of different stuff.
“It’s not just a rural thing, it’s really for anybody.”
Mowinkel shared that sentiment.
“I just think it’s a great for the area youth and I really like to commend the group that puts it on and the people behind the scenes because they don’t get enough credit for what they do,” he said.
A full list of events at this year’s Fremont 4-H Expo can be found online at extension.unl.edu/statewide/dodge/frfourhexhguide/.