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State fair a learning experience for two Baxter teens

Emily Zahurones and Hailey Pierce each earned a Certificate of Recognition with a 
Seal of Merit for participating in a 4-H working exhibit at the Iowa State Fair on 
Emily Zahurones and Hailey Pierce each earned a Certificate of Recognition with a Seal of Merit for participating in a 4-H working exhibit at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday.

The pairing of two Baxter teens, Emily Zahurones, 16, and Hailey Pierce, 13,  would almost make for an ideal plot for an ’80s buddy cop film.

Zahurones is the veteran “cop” and has been a member of the Hominy Ridge 4-H Club for a number of years. She’s been to the Iowa State Fair before, but never for a communication’s working exhibition.

Pierce is the rookie “cop” who’s new to the force. She’s just wrapping up her first year in 4-H, and Thursday was her first time competing at the state fair and Zahurones is the vet who’s showing her the ropes.

“We recently just moved onto our farm, and we just started getting our animals so I joined 4-H,” Pierce said. “She’s (Zahurones) always been a family friend and we click, so she asked me if I wanted to do a working exhibit and we got to the state fair.”

“My mom even said she were not going to the state fair this year, we were staying at county — and then we made it to state.”

Working exhibits involve giving a presentation from a set-location inside the Bruce L. Rastetter 4-H Exhibits Building at the Iowa State Fair to people who visit your table.

A ton of preparation and the popular interactive site Pinterest are the keys that helped get the girls to the state fair this year. Zahurones said that after last year’s fair, she immediately began researching ideas on Pinterest for a working exhibit that would be great  this year.

The project she discovered was how to create spoon maracas using colorful plastic eggs, rice, disposable spoons and decorative tape.

Wade Zahurones, Emily’s younger brother, said the girls went through a lot of preparation to get ready to present Thursday at the fair.

“She’s been working hard on it. She’s been working on it for awhile, she had her friend (Pierce) over last night working on it,” he said.

Armed with what they were certain was a quality project, the girls brought their A game with them when it was finally their turn to set-up.

Within minutes of setting up, visitors of all ages continued to surround their table. However, they maintained their composure, kept plenty of eggs on the table and did their best to give their full attention to all of their patrons.

Tricia Stouder, a 4-H program youth specialist for the Region 15 ISU Extension Office, served as the judge for Zahurones and Pierce as well as the other teams who competed. She said she looks for a lot of things when judging presentations; how they handle crowds; if they project their voice; how well they are teaching their visitors; and how visual the presentation is.

Pierce estimated that more than 100 people stopped by their table —  she based this on the number of eggs they had left versus what they started with — and the distinctive rattle of the maracas was very evident in the 4-H building.

Myla Myer and her friend Hanna Bjellica, former 4-Hers from Charles City, where among the rattlers and they appeared to be impressed by the girls work.

“I thought it was good,” Myer said. “You always want to be inviting, the directions were simple, they had a variety of decorations and its somewhat educational since music fits into that category.”

“I liked the different color tape,” Bjellica said.

After presenting for nearly 45 minutes and then waiting almost an hour, the girls finally got to hear Stouder’s verdict.

“They did a great job, they had people coming to them from everywhere and it was really bright, colorful and fun,” Stouder said.

Stouder awarded the girls the Certificate of Recognition with a Seal of Merit — which she said is the equivalent to a blue ribbon in other state fair competitions.

After a crash course in state fair level working exhibits, both the rookie and veteran sounded satisfied with how things went for them. They both thought things went very well and they both agreed that next year, they’ll bring  back ups for everything.

Contact Senior Staff Writer Ty Rushing at (641) 792-3121 ext. 6532 or at

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