As an Anamosa High School sophomore, Connor Andresen is now a veteran showing at the Swine and Beef shows annually at the Great Jones County Fair.
But, as Andresen remembers, and not too long ago actually, things didn’t come so easy and there were a lot of questions as to how to be most successful in the ring showing animals.
“I grew up watching my cousins Colby and McKenzie Toenjes show at the fair when I was little and I wanted to be just like them,” said Andresen, who claimed the coveted Master Showmanship award not only in the Swine show Thursday, July 18, but also in the Beef show just one day later.
“Colby and McKenzie showed me what I needed to do back then, and I watched and listened. Growing up it was just pretty much expected I’d show at the fair coming from a farm family and I wanted to be just as successful as my cousins, because they sure seemed to know what they were doing.”
Mission accomplished for Andresen.
“As a kid my dad got me into the kiddie dairy and bucket bottle calf shows every year until I was old enough to be in 4H,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed being able to watch my animals grow and showing them at the fair and just doing the very best that I could.”
Andresen has been extremely successful in both the Swine and Beef shows over the years, claiming Reserve Champion honors with his Home Farrowed Barrow and Heavyweight Commercial Breeding Guild pigs in the Swine show this past week.
He also placed second with his purchased steer in the Beef show.
While Andresen credits his cousins with helping him know what to do once in the ring and in front of the judges, out of it he also knows exactly who to give credit for his successes.
“My dad always helped me with the little things it takes to be successful on the farm before you get to the fair,” said Andresen, as his dad Chris suddenly and shockingly passed away April 14, at the age of just 41.
“I really miss that. He’d always be there for me whenever I had a question and needed help with something. He allowed me to make mistakes and learn from them, too. He wouldn’t just do everything for me. He wanted to make sure I was the one who knew everything about my animals so when I got into the ring, I knew exactly what I had to do and what questions I had to answer to do the best that I possibly could.”
Andresen, who now mentors his brothers Carson (age 14) and Kyle (10), regularly wakes up at 5 a.m. to work with his steer, then after a rigorous weight-lifting regime at Anamosa High School, returns to his farm in Olin to work with his pigs.
“This year, I have one steer and 12 pigs that my brothers and I work with,” Andresen said. “I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish at this year’s fair. I’ve gone from being the one who looked to others like my cousins and my dad to learn things from to the one that my brothers are now looking to, and I want to make sure I can be the best example I can for them, on the farm and off.”