Stark Co. home to generation after generation of family showmen

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LOUISVILLE, Ohio – Stark County’s fair may have changed throughout the decades, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the families taking 4-H projects to the fair.

August after August, generation after generation, 4-H’ers load the cattle trailer with their animals and head to the Canton fairgrounds.

And many of these past 4-H’ers are 9-year-old Robert Wolfe’s relatives. Following the footsteps of several generations before him, he is getting two cows ready for his first year showing at the fair.

In the genes. For some people, curly hair runs in the family. For others, the genetics for thin legs are the predominant trait.

For this Stark County family, however, that family characteristic is a love of 4-H.

Robert is the newest member of the Monter/Wolfe 4-H clan. His great-grandfather, Ralph Gill, started the 4-H tradition many years ago, first as a member and then adviser of the Stark Golden Guernsey 4-H club.

The legacy continued when Gill’s daughter, Dorothy, took up showing in eighth grade. She has stuck with 4-H ever since.

Fair love. During one particularly memorable fair, Dorothy met a fellow 4-H member, Sonny Monter, who was in the Mudlake Beavers club and also showed at the Stark County Fair. After Dorothy and Sonny were married, they passed the 4-H torch to their four children.

One of their daughters, Ann, was also a member of Mudlake Beavers and showed dairy cattle, however, she also took up sewing.

As Ann got older, her sewing 4-H club began dissolving and there wasn’t continued interest in leadership. So Ann volunteered to keep the club going by becoming a co-adviser and doing the paperwork for the club from college.

After she graduated, she kept finding reasons to stick with the club and she and her mother, Dorothy, have now been advisers of the Needles and Brush club for 19 years.

Ann and her husband John Wolfe, also a 4-H alumnus, have a dairy and grain farm in Louisville, Ohio, and that is where their son, Robert is raising his first 4-H animals.

Out and about. The 4-H genealogy stemming from Dorothy Monter’s grandparents flows through the branches of the family tree, beyond Ann Wolfe and her family.

Dorothy’s aunt, Gertrude Thouvenin, is the oldest 4-H adviser in the county, with almost 50 years under her belt. In addition, Dorothy was one of six children who were all involved with 4-H and showing.

Many members of their families are continuing with 4-H. Nowadays, Dorothy says almost everyone at the fair is related to her – the Eckroates, the Gills and the Kikos.

Robert Wolfe. Despite starting fourth grade a week before the fair starts, Robert plans on showing his feeder calf, Tornado, and dairy winter calf, Savannah, at the fair.

Although he’ll be juggling school and the fair, his goal is to place at least third at the shows. He has spent the summer taking care of his animals, feeding them, leading them just about every day, and Robert is confident that he’ll meet his goal.

Words from the wise. With so many 4-H alumni in his family, he’s gotten lots of showing tips. Some of the best advice, he said, is to use Palmolive to wash his calves because it makes the white shine brighter.

In addition, he says his animals are well-behaved because he talks to them.

Following his mother’s footsteps, Robert is involved with more than one area of 4-H. In addition, to being a member of the Udder Bunch club, Robert is in the Needles and Brush club.

His 4-H project for the second club was a dog care project involving his new puppy, Buddy, a yellow Lab. The project was on ear cleaning, and Robert won the junior division, best overall poster in the county and went to state.

Robert plans on following in his family’s footsteps, sticking with agriculture and being a dairy farmer like his father – that is, if his career as a professional basketball or baseball player doesn’t work out.

Stepping up. Robert’s 7-year-old sister, Katherine, is already getting her foot in the 4-H door. This is her second year of Cloverbud 4-H. At this indecisive age, she isn’t too sure yet whether she wants to take up sewing like her mom.

But one thing this youngster is sure of is that she only wants to show “girl” cows, not “any boys.”

Whether their 2-year-old brother, Daniel, will be interested in 4-H remains to be seen. Nevertheless, if he’s anything like the rest of his family, the tradition of 4-H will continue.

(You can contact Kristy Alger at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at kalger@farmanddairy.com.)

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