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For the first time in history, the Antelope County Fairgrounds has an official exterior sign.
Construction began this summer and was completed a week before the fair.
The sign was built in loving memory of Dallmont and Bernadine Erickson, who were heavily involved in agriculture and 4-H in Antelope County.
Korene Erickson Fehringer, Dallmont and Bernadine’s only child, donated the money for the new sign.
“When her father, Dallmont, passed away, they donated $5,000 just for 4-H to use as we wanted,” said treasurer of the 4-H Council, Anne Meis. “And then, when Bernadine passed away a few years later, they gave another $5,000.”
Before her father passed away in 2013 and her mother passed away 10 months later, Erickson Fehringer said her parents gave her an idea of what they were comfortable supporting, which included the 4-H Council.
“When I talked with Anne Meis and gave her money for the 4-H Council, I told her that I would like for it to go for scholarships for youth that would want to be going to 4-H camps and also for general improvements for the 4-H grounds,” she said.
For the second donation, Meis said they wanted to put it toward a lasting structure that would recognize their family and get good use.
“We didn’t want this to go into operating expenses,” Meis said. “We wanted something that would honor the family and have some permanence with the fair and 4-H.”
Erickson Fehringer said she had no clue the structure was being built, but she was extremely happy with the results.
“When someone sent me a picture of it, I was very, very pleased with what the council had done, and I feel that it’s a great memorial to my parents,” she said.
Meis said the new sign was inspired by a similar display in Dodge County that they liked.
Its display is made out of brick, and the sign was designed by a company that 4-H youth development coordinator, Tessa Hain, found.
“Roger Legate does masonry work, and so he laid the brick,” Meis said. “And then, Tessa found a company to design and print the sign. So, those two took it from there.”
Hain had the company, Love Signs of Norfolk, design and print the sign.
“For the design, we just wanted something simple, but yet that would represent agriculture and the life of the 4-Her,” Hain said.
The wooden sign that was hung in the show ring had been used for about 35-40 years for pictures of livestock winners, so it was time for an improvement, she said.
When she was younger, Erickson Fehringer was a 4-H member and showed cattle at the Antelope County Fair.
Her parents farmed and raised and fed registered angus cattle on their farm located west of Elgin. They were also 4-H leaders and great promoters and sponsors for youth in the community at the fair.
“They felt that 4-H taught you responsibility, leadership, accountability and gave you good work ethics, too,” she said.
In about 1963, her father, Dallmont, was instrumental in starting a new class in the beef show.
“My father promoted there being a class of what they called at that time stocker feeders, which I think now they call it bucket calves, so that youth could have a smaller calf to start with in showing,” Erickson Fehringer said.
She and her husband, Jim, have continued the tradition of continuing to attend the Antelope County Fair, where they attend the beef show, see other exhibits and renew old friendships.
Jim and Korene Erickson Fehringer live in Columbus, but still spend a lot of time in Antelope County because Korene, who is a fourth-generation owner of her parents’ land, still manages the farm west of Elgin and another one south of Clearwater.
She has passed on some of the same ideals her parents taught her to her husband’s five children.
“We have shared with them how important it is to me to carry on the traditions of supporting the small communities in Antelope County,” she said.
For Erickson Fehringer, it’s a privilege to be able to honor her parents’ wishes and support organizations that were near and dear to their hearts with the new fair sign.
“My parents were very kind of behind the scenes,” she said. “They were ambassadors for the small communities, but they were promoters and supporters of the youth in the community, so I think they would be very humbled to see this.”
Meis said she’s thrilled with the new sign and looks forward to seeing pictures taken this year of livestock winners in front of it.
“I’m excited for nice, bright pictures that can be taken next to that steer that they have worked all summer with and they’re so proud of,” Meis said.
Erickson Fehringer also hopes the new sign will continue to honor her parents’ legacy.
“It’s just my hope that the structure will serve as a backdrop for pictures of exhibitors and their livestock, and just to kind of serve as a memory for someone who had a great interest in the fair, in youth in the community and for promoting agriculture,” she said. “Because, really when it comes down to it, that’s what the fair is all about.”
This new fair sign will continue to preserve the memory of Dallmont and Bernadine Erickson for years to come.
“We’re not planning on replacing it at all because we had some really good donations that came in through the Erickson family,” Hain said. “So, we want to honor them and to keep their memory alive here at the Antelope County Fairgrounds.”