County fairs have been canceled across the state, or — at the very least — they won’t look like they typically do. It’s an unfortunate situation for 4-H’ers who won’t be able to show their hard work to the public, but Bayley Hitzemann isn’t letting it detract from her 10 years of dedication to the program.
Hitzemann, a sophomore at Purdue University, has been named an Indiana Dairy Beef Queen for 2020 — an accomplishment she has been working toward for more than a decade. While the Allen County Fair has joined the growing list of canceled county fairs this summer, Hitzemann still plans to attend the members-only judging this year with hopes of sharing her love of the dairy industry. She said she plans to make it to at least 10 fairs this year. She also plans to take part in the modified Indiana State Fair Livestock Show in August; the traditional State Fair with public attendance has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year’s Allen County Fair has been canceled. However, the fairgrounds is continuing to work with Allen County 4-H to develop plans for 4-H activities that would normally happen during the fair. That could include a combination of virtual judging and in-person livestock judging. Those events would be closed to the public. The state fair board will take a similar course of action.
“It definitely is a little bit of a downer that the public won’t be there, but I’m still excited to do it and reach as many people as I can,” Hitzemann said. “As far as being in the ring, I should still be able to share a little bit of my story, and talk about the dairy industry, what it means to me and how I hope to further that in my career.”
Hitzemann is a graduate of Concordia Lutheran High School and has shown dairy beef cattle at the Allen County Fair and Indiana State Fair for 10 years. She has also shown pigs — a family tradition passed down to her by her father and grandfather. She won Dairy Beef Senior Showmanship at the state fair as a member of the Eel River 4-H Club.
Hitzemann currently studies animal sciences at Purdue with a pre-veterinary concentration. She even received early admission into the university’s school of veterinary medicine as a senior in high school, through Purdue’s Veterinary Scholars Program.
While she is pursuing her vet degree, Hitzemann is also working for several large animal veterinarians, as well as a small animal clinic in Fort Wayne. She plans to continue to work with large animals after she graduates.
“I’m definitely hoping to stay in the livestock industry when I get older, and this queen program has been a big part of that decision,” she said.
Dairy Beef Queens represent 4-h dairy beef feeder youth, and are selected based on their background in 4-H, the number of years they have shown cattle at the state fair, and their commitment to promoting the dairy industry and 4-H dairy beef projects.
Hitzemann said two of her lifelong friends that she met through 4-H have been selected as queens in the past.
“It was really cool how they got to impact younger kids and the public who came to the shows, and I wanted to do that too,” she said. “… The dairy beef industry is very welcoming. We’re always willing and ready to share with people who are interested and maybe want to start 4-H — even if it’s something that they haven’t had a family history in.”