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Haveman family brings horses, goats to Washington County Fair

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Late in the afternoon last Tuesday, July 28, the parking lot around the Washington County Fairgrounds sat quietly waiting in anticipation for the crowds that will soon flood it the next day. 

Inside the fairgrounds, though, the excitement has already begun. 

On one side of the fairgrounds, crews get to work installing the carnival games and rides while on the other maintenance workers start getting the fairgrounds ready for opening day, which was July 29. 

But it’s the areas around the barns that see the most excitement. 

Dozens of trucks and trailers pull in and out unloading equipment and their most important cargo — the animals, in this case the horses. 

The Haveman family of Denmark Township was one such group who were getting their three horses ready.

“It is literally all day, every day,” Tammie Haveman said. 

The Washington County Fair ran through Sunday, Aug. 2.

Calm before the storm 

For the Havemans – father Dave, mother Tammie, eighth grader Gillian, sixth grader Obbe, third grader Violet and 4-year-old Ty –  preparation for the Washington County Fair kicked off earlier this summer because not only did Gillian, Obbe and Violet, who are all members of 4-H, have to get themselves prepared for their shows, but the animals had to be prepped also. 

Throughout the summer the three oldest siblings took to riding their horses as much as they could in order to get them prepared for the competitions, in this case the games competitions – pole weaving, jumping, pin hole and barrel racing. 

“You have to really ride a lot to get ready for it,” Gillian said. “You have to ride almost every day all summer.” 

When the Havemans weren’t out on their horses, they were hitting the books since they also show milk goats, which requires them to answer any question about the breeds. 

“You have to learn everything about them,” Gillian said. 

Next, during the week of the fair, the Havemans, originally of Woodbury,  went to work bathing and brushing their horses in order to get them looking good for their debut. 

The goats also required some prepping by being shaved properly and bathed. 

Once the animals were ready it was time to round up everything they would need: brushes, feed, bedding, straw, buckets, saddles, bridles, harnesses, ropes and much more. 

At home at the fair 

Last Tuesday, once the Havemans arrived at the fairgrounds, the first stop was to unload all of their equipment into a designated stall. 

Once everything is unloaded and organized, the horses made their way into their home for the next five days. 

The goats made their appearance last Thursday. 

Throughout the run of the fair, the Havemans were responsible for keeping their animals fed and watered, so it makes for some long days despite the fact that they went home every day.

Last Wednesday, the Havemans started their day at 7:30 a.m. in order to get their horses fed, watered and the stalls cleaned out in advance of their first show at 8:30 a.m. 

While waiting for their names to be called, Gillian, Obbe and Violet exercised their horses around the practice ring, getting them ready for the main event. 

Now, since the Havemans aren’t always showing their animals, the challenge becomes finding ways to pass the time. 

“While you’re waiting you can pretty much do anything,” Gillian said. 

Most of the days were spent wandering around the fairgrounds visiting booths and seeing the entertainment. 

However, the days were also filled by visiting with old friends, playing cards or even just catching up on sleep. 

“There’s a lot of camaraderie between the other exhibitors,” Tammie said. “You get to know people pretty well because we’re all here together all week.” 

The Havemans’ busiest day last week was Friday since both the horse shows and the goat show were being held that day. 

“They’ll be running back and forth between the goat show and the horse show,” Tammie said last Tuesday prior to the start of the fair. 

By the end of the weekend the Havemans walked away with several ribbons for their animals, including reserve champion, but unfortunately though, they did not win a ticket to the Minnesota State Fair. 

However, Gillian will be advancing to the state fair for an exhibit she created on a recent trip to Haiti. 

“We’re so ready to be done by Sunday,” Tammie said. 

For the Havemans the Washington County Fair is a truly enjoyable experience. 

“I think it’s a great experience for the kids to have to bring the animals out here and to make sure the animals are cared for,” Tammie said. “You learn a lot through doing this. 

“It gives them the opportunity to show off what they’ve been working on all year.”


Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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