Orfordville 4-H'ers are cream of the crop
The Rock County 4-H Fair starts Tuesday. You’ll see lots of familiar activities and faces. Here are a few things—new and familiar—to watch for:
-- A lumberjack show takes place every day at noon, 2 and 6 p.m. near the food fair.
-- New this year is mutton busting at 2 p.m. Sunday. In a nutshell, it’s kids riding sheep. Depending on the stubbornness of each kid/sheep team, it can be pretty entertaining. Registration starts at 1 p.m. and is limited to the first 100 participants. Kids must weigh less than 65 pounds, and parents must be present at registration.
-- Radio Disney Road Crew will have games for the whole family at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Craig Avenue Pavilion.
-- Enjoy newly reconstructed swine and beef barns.
-- The annual meat animal sale will start at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
-- Skylar the Magician will perform at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Craig Avenue Pavilion.
-- Heatwave, the 4-H show choir, celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer.
-- The fair-food eating contest will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday in the Craig Avenue Pavilion. Contestants may sign up in the fair office as late as 30 minutes prior to the event.
PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP Someday, when snickerdoodle cake is a household name, we’ll all say we knew Tyler Long before he was famous.
We’ll brag about how we ate snickerdoodle cake when the only place you could get it was at The Cake Box in Orfordville. Smugly, we’ll tell people that the world-famous pastry chef got his start right here at our little, ol’ county fair in Janesville.
OK. Maybe that’s the butter cream frosting talking. But they are awfully good little cakes, and Long is awfully enthusiastic about his future as a pastry chef.
Long is one of hundreds of kids who have been working hard on thousands of projects for competition at this week’s 81st annual Rock County 4-H Fair in Janesville.
The fair starts Tuesday. Children and young adults will compete in hundreds of categories ranging from art to agriculture to home environment to mechanical sciences.
As the name implies, the majority of the competitors are members of local 4-H clubs. Students from local schools, members of FFA chapters and other kids also will compete at the youth-only fair.
Long, 18, and his brothers Ryan, 11, and Kyle, 9, are members of the Center 4-H Club. They spent a cool afternoon during last week’s heat wave working in the air-conditioned kitchen of their home in rural western Rock County.
A collection of old scented candles melted in a coffee can on the stove. The label maker spewed miles of tidy print. The boys’ mother, Sue Long, was cool as a cucumber while she supervised what looked like 14 projects at once.
The two older boys are entering photography, food and child development projects in the fair. In child development, 4-H’ers learn to make age appropriate toys and activities—usually for children younger than themselves.
Kyle is in the explorers project, which is designed for young kids in their first year of 4-H. It allows them to try out lots of activities without a lot of pressure. Kyle’s finished works will include “fire starters” made out of shredded paper, wax cups and old candles; mounted photographs; and a collection of eight insects in a framed display.
Kyle was shy at first to talk to a reporter about his projects, but he opened up as soon as the bug collection came out. He had a story about where he caught each insect—a praying mantis, a weed beetle and two cicadas, among others.
He already has decided he will make a bigger, better collection for next year’s fair.
As you relax and read your Sunday paper, Tyler Long is likely baking a mountain of cookies and biscotti or putting the final details on a huge, pirate ship cake.
Tyler graduated in June from Parkview High School, where he took all the food classes offered as well as independent study. His food teacher connected him with Tracy Schroeder and Sue Shepherd, who last fall opened The Cake Box Bakery & Café in Orfordville.
Tyler has worked with the women since before the store opened and plans to open his own bakery someday, he said.
He plans to attend Madison Area Technical College in the fall.
He learned he had a gift for baking by making cooking projects for the fair, Tyler said.
“4-H is what started it,” he said.
The snickerdoodle cakes came to be when Tyler on a whim baked cookies in a muffin tin. He topped the soft but sturdy results with butter cream frosting, cinnamon and caramel drizzle.
Customers have started coming in to ask for the cakes by name, Long said. But he’s not resting on his laurels. He’s got a lot of work to do to find his niche, he said.
“We haven’t found my specialty, yet,” Long said.