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It’s hard to miss the similarities between Fred and Jared Anderson, especially the smile that appears when talking about the Antelope County Fair.
Jared, 29, all but grew up at the fair as he tagged alongside his dad, not knowing that one day he would hold the same position as one of nine directors of the Ag Society, the organization that oversees the Antelope County Fair. This marked Jared’s first year on the board and just the second fair since Fred’s retirement.
“It wasn’t planned or expected for him to take over my spot,” Fred said Sunday afternoon. “But I think he always wanted to do this.”
Jared admitted the only thing keeping him from running for election earlier was his address. He and wife, Brittany, had been living south of Pierce. Not being a registered voter of Antelope County, he couldn’t serve on the board.
But he could help with the fair and dedicated time each August helping his dad. After building a home north of Neligh, Jared met the requirements to be a director. But even so, he hadn’t planned on putting his name on the ballot.
“When you help out around here at the fair, they invite you to the annual meeting,” Jared said. “I just happened to show up at the meeting last December, and one of the board members approached me. I was a little hesitant at first because we had a new baby and just moved into a new house, but I figured if I didn’t take this opportunity, there might not be another one for a while.”
With no one else running, Jared was guaranteed the position — as long as his wife approved. Brittany — daughter of Tim and Vickie Mosel — was ill at home, so they spent 15 minutes on the phone discussing whether it was the right choice. Together, they decided it was.
Like Father, Like Son
As a former agriculture teacher, Fred Anderson has a long-standing love for fairs, which has made his involvement invaluable over the years to Antelope County.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Fred started his teaching career at Columbus Lakeview in January 1979. He then taught at Newman Grove and Creighton. Like most ag teachers, he was involved in the fairs at each county — Platte, Madison and Knox.
It was during his stint at Creighton that he met his wife, Linda, who still teaches there. Ironically, both were originally from St. Edward but didn’t know each other.
“When I had my senior picture in the annual, she was clear back in the sixth-grade picture,” Fred said with a chuckle. “We didn’t run much together and didn’t meet until we were in Creighton.”
The Anderson moved to Neligh in 1993 and raised three children — Jared, Emily and Clayton — with Fred then working in the private sector selling insurance. About eight years later, he decided to run for a position on the Antelope County Ag Society. Jared, who was in sixth grade at the time, said their neighbor, Paul Fullerton, was president of the Ag Society and encouraged Fred to run.
“I was on his coattails down here ever since,” Jared said. “As a kid that age, I wanted to follow my dad everywhere he went. I was probably a little annoying sometimes, but I think I ended up being pretty good help.”
Although his interest was with the livestock and 4-H shows, Fred ended up working more with the entertainment events as the grandstand chairman, but spent every spare minute with the livestock and anywhere he was needed.
Wherever he was, so was Jared. Although he didn’t realize it then, those years were preparing him for his time as a director.
“It’s been a huge advantage because I’ve been around this so long,” he said. “I know what needs to be done, so the transition as far as knowing where to be and what needs to happen the week of the fair came naturally. The learning process is with the meeting side of things.”
Although Jared, a 2007 graduate of Neligh-Oakdale, has nearly two decades of experience with the fair, he only participated in 4-H for a couple of years with shooting sports. Most of his time was spent working at the fair, not necessarily through 4-H.
“When dad got on the board, I just started tagging along with him,” Jared said. “It started with little jobs like sweeping out the grandstand or running here and there to now being part of the whole thing.”
Although Fred is officially retired as a director, he’s still very involved with both the Ag Society and the fair. He manages the schedule and keys for the fair building and also lines up the flag corps before the team penning event.
This year, Fred was also a grand champion in the open class — twice. He won top prize with a rocking horse and a leather gun case. While he’s proud of both entries, neither outshine what he feels for his son.
“I’m proud of him,” Fred said. “You don’t have to tell him what to do. He’ll find it himself, so it’s been fun watching him.”
A third generation Anderson also took in the fair last week. Erich, Jared and Brittany’s 1 1/2-year-old son, spent the week with Grandma Linda. Fred said he can’t wait to see which 4-H events spark his interest.
Jared agreed because although the entertainment events are fun, the fair is really about the 4-H youth and their families. That’s what makes the year of planning and week of no sleep during the fair worth it.
“This is what it’s all about,” Jared said, pointing out a group of 4-H kids. “All of these kids work hard on their projects and animals all year long. This is their chance to show the rest of the county and state what great stuff we produce here in Antelope County.”