Those asking Platte County Fair 4-H volunteers about Lois Rodehorst will likely hear about how she never takes a break from the annual summer festivities.
“Every year, I say, ‘OK, Mom, are you going to work (the fair) this year?’,” said Jill F. Goedeken, open class manager for the Platte County Fair, noting that the answer is usually known before it is asked.
Indeed, it was a suggestion from her daughter that has led to more than 30 years of volunteerism in a variety of different roles at the Platte County Fair. Her entire family has a relationship with the fair and with 4-H, and in the 30 years that she has been a part of the fair, she has seen an entire family go through the process of showing off their best stuff.
“I had all four kids in 4-H, I’ve seen all my 13 grandchildren in 4-H, and now, my great-grandchildren are showing (at) Platte County,” Rodehorst said. “I am very proud of this young man. His name is Kade Goedeken (Jill A. Goedeken’s son).”
She has also seen the fair evolve from generation to generation. How 4-H’ers used to show their top creations has changed significantly from when she first started out. At that time, people used to show their cattle outside on the racetrack.
“We used to show cattle outside in front of the grandstand,” Rodehorst said. “My kids didn’t, but friends of mine did. I can remember seeing that.”
She also marvels at how the interior of the Platte County Ag Park can be transformed into the smorgasbord of creations made by the youth of Platte County that people see every year.
“It’s amazing what you can transform this place into in short order,” Rodehorst said. “It’s a whole different scene. We’ve seen so many changes.”
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What hasn’t changed has been Lois’ people-friendly personality, which is described best by her daughter.
“She’s an inspiration to all of us because she keeps going,” Goedeken said. “This is part of her life, part of her year, it’s a week out of her year that she couldn’t do without. She’s involved because she loves it. I don’t know if you can tell, but she loves people. She loves to visit with the people when they bring their exhibits in and she loves to work with the judges and hear what they have to say about all the different entries that come in. She just loves every aspect of it.”
It’s that love of working with people that allows her to continue at the fair 30 years later. She always promises that each year is the last one, but she keeps coming back, year after year.
“The Lord might be in control of that,” Rodehorst said. “All kidding aside, as long as my health serves me well, that’s all I ask. Sometimes, that’s in God’s hands, not ours.”
Some have resigned themselves to the reality - much like death and taxes - that Rodehorst will be a part of the Platte County Fair for as long as she possibly can."
“I don’t think that (Rodehorst retiring) will ever happen until the day it happens,” Goedeken said. “She’ll keep coming back as long as she can.”
Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.