For many 4-H youth, raising livestock to show at the county fair is just one of the countless projects they are involved in.
When she's not up early, feeding her steer and chickens, Jessica Koenigsfeld can be found painting, gardening or cooking.
Koenigsfeld, a member of the St. Martins 4-H Club for five years, said she originally became interested in 4-H because of the painting project.
"I always had an interest in painting and wanted to get involved to take the project meeting classes so I could learn more from someone," Koenigsfeld said.
Koenigsfeld entered five paintings through 4-H at the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair this year. All received blue ribbons — representing highest quality work — and one, an acrylic painting of an alligator, will move on to the Missouri State Fair later this summer.
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Koenigsfeld said her favorite subjects to paint are animals. One of her paintings features her chicken, Queenie, surrounded by blue roses.
While Queenie may have a special place in her heart, Koenigsfeld said she loves all 24 of her chickens, each with their own name.
This year was Koenigsfeld's second showing chickens, taking home Grand Champion — the top exhibitor determined by the judges — in the standard breeding poultry category.
"This is only the second year I've shown (chickens) because I was scared of bringing them out here in the heat, and I didn't want anything to happen to them," Koenigsfeld said with a chuckle.
To prepare her chickens for the poultry show, Koenigsfeld said, first she bathes the chicken in soapy water before carefully drying them off, making sure not to break any feathers, and scrubbing their feet with a toothbrush to remove any excess dirt.
Although each feathered friend is like a pet to Koenigsfeld, she said she doesn't name her steers because she doesn't want to get attached, knowing they will sell after she shows them at the fair.
Koenigsfeld said she believes she stands out from her peers, as she sources her steers a bit differently.
"Most people have family farms, where they go pick out their steer, but I don't," Koenigsfeld said. "I'll go to different people's farms to pick out my steers for each year."
Koenigsfeld said she pays for all of her livestock and necessary supplies on her own. With the money she earned from her steer this year, she plans to purchase a few heifers. Last year, she used her earnings to upgrade her chicken coop.
Overall, Koenigsfeld said, she's gained a lot of respect for where the meat she eats comes from, as she now understands the process behind the scenes.
Koenigsfeld's painting and gardening projects can be viewed in the 4-H exhibition hall at the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair throughout the week.
Enjoyed this feature? Check out other Faces of the Fair: Eileen Shafer, Toni Haselhorst, Taylor Riley, Madisyn Suess and Garrett Holtgrewe. The News Tribune will feature a new person every day during the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, so watch for more faces!Gallery: PHOTO GALLERY: Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair