WAVERLY --- Tonight at the Bremer County Fairgrounds, fans of rock 'n' roll will sing along with .38 Special.

Earlier in the week, cowboys tested their resilience against bucking bulls. And local experts demonstrated the creative possibilities of Legos.

Organizers behind the Bremer County Fair, now in its 135th year, pride themselves on putting together a diverse event, and they try to vary the lineup from year to year.

Some aspects of the county fair tradition, like the 4-H and FFA livestock exhibits, remain a staple. Likewise, the fair, and months spent preparing, are a constant in the lives of many youths.

"It's kind of a family tradition," said Cody Murray, 18, of Plainfield.

Thursday afternoon, a few contests remained. Young people preparing for the beef show attempted to move bellowing entries across the fairgrounds. One girl shushed her entry before planting a kiss on the animal's nose.

Jessi Reiher, 16, and Emily Kleitsch, 17, show cattle with the Rainbow Clovers. They washed their crossbred steers, Frankie and Doug.

Jade Krumwiede, 15, was one step ahead. She used a vacuum to dry her grand champion. Because of his win, the steer was slated to compete again.

Murray, who watched the grooming process, thought the animal was probably in seventh heaven.

"A hot steer getting cold air blown on him? Nothing better," he said.

This year, the fair attracted 840 4-H livestock and pet entries.

County fairs are a chance for youth to display their hard work, said Ron Lenth, a county extension coordinator.

"It builds self-confidence, how to handle adversity, how to handle meeting people they've never met before," he added.

Murray said he learned patience after years of working with cows. Some animals, like a crossbred heifer he brought this year --- his pride and joy --- are naturally serene. A crossbred steer resting nearby? Not so much.

Murray's has to be the one to set the tone.

"You have to be calm," he said.

A recent high school graduate, Murray competed in his last county fair this week.

"Builds a lot of character," he said.

Visitors on Thursday strolled past rows of poultry that noisily squawked, clucked and cock-a-doodle-dooed. Children scrambled after goats and sheep in a nearby petting zoo. Across the way, rabbits didn't have much to say.

One exhibit featured animals not common --- or welcome --- on the farm.

Staff with the Pella Wildlife Co. helped visitors pet skunks. The animal's glands responsible for the infamous odor had been removed, though.

The Pella Wildlife folks also answered questions about sleepy and playful critters that remained in cages --- a pair of foxes, twin bear cubs and a baby wolf.

The animals were born and will remain in captivity, said Dev DeArmond, educational director and co-founder of Pella Wildlife.

"They are specifically selected to be good educational ambassadors," DeArmond said.

The fair continues through Saturday.

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