Road to the county fair: For Cooksey family, travel time during 4-H season helps make memories
Among those who attended the premiere of “Finding Dory,” was the Cooksey clan.
The family is constantly on the move and working between their farm and 4-H, so watching movies is one of the activities the Cookseys do together — but it’s nothing compared to 4-H, which is their favorite way to spend time.
Molly, 18, is in her second-to-last year of 4-H, and her 21-year-old sister, Sarah, finished a few years back. 4-H gives them something the group can share.
For the sisters and their parents, Jeff and Amy, time includes raising cattle, farming showing and working in the potato cellar — where the steers are kept to avoid the heat of summer — all enough to keep the family working together.
The potato cellar is one place they spend a lot of time, and a place they’ve made their own. Names are written on the wall in spray paint, along with a volleyball. On the far wall black letters spell out, “Molly is awesome,” with a red “not” added above.
But with their time in the cellar literally written on the wall, the cramped quarters of the family roadster binds these family ties.
“The road time, getting there is usually fun,” Molly said.
The memories build with each mile they travel — including one such trip to Grand Island, Neb. A series of complications helped the trip stand out in their minds.
Jeff needed to leave Grand Island earlier than the rest, so they dropped his car off at a bus stop in Fort Morgan, Colo. After a quick stop at the store, Amy left her phone at Walmart and the family needed to turn around to get it. Between the stops, and turning around, the family finally reached their destination at 2 a.m. — later than they planned. The late arrival meant it was too late when they stopped at Wendy’s to finally eat dinner, and had to venture in the drive-through with their trailer, which isn’t an easy feat.
“Going to Grand Island, we always struggle when we go there,” Molly said with a laugh.
The family time doesn’t end when they arrive to any fair. They are constantly together, between preparing cattle, watching the girls show and the down time, which Sarah said she enjoys most.
“Some of my favorite memories about the fair and the shows are card games,” she said.
The family has a few different games they play, including spoons.
Sarah said there wasn’t a question that she and Molly would show cattle. Amy and Jeff both showed, following their own parents example. In fact, Amy and Jeff met at the Colorado State Fair.
“It’s was more of a given to show because they did it and our grandparents did it,” Sarah said.
Molly, Sarah and their dad all have won in the South East Weld County Fair showing steer. But the sisters not only won their division, they also did it with cattle the family raised together.“They both won the Keenesburg show, so those were some good memories because that was a goal that we had that we accomplished,” their dad said. “It was fun for them.”
The girls wouldn’t have been able to win in the same show their dad did if it wasn’t for their parents’ help. Even before Sarah and Molly joined 4-H, they showed bucket calves, but the transition to steer came with the extra hand from mom and dad.
“(Sarah and Molly) were always there,” Amy said. “They were always in the potato cellar together, but we definitely helped a lot more back then.”
Even when it was just Sarah in 4-H, Molly was either in the cellar or in the field, tagging along as Sarah and their parents worked. Molly said she didn’t know if she was much help, but there was only one big difference when she was finally old enough to show in 4-H.
“I remember we fought over who got which steers at some points,” Molly said. “Not to-the-death fights, but she got the better steer because she’s the older sister. But that’s all that really changed is we had to split the steer.”
But sisters fight, and that isn’t anything to take away from what 4-H does for the Cookseys and how the unit works as one.
“We’re very blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to be a team and be a family,” Jeff said. “And blessed to be able to put it all together.”❖
Samantha Fox is a reporter and designer for The Fence Post. “Road to the county fair” is a weekly column series that includes six Weld County 4-H participants as they prepare and compete at the 2016 Weld County Fair. Reach Samantha at email@example.com or connect with her at @FoxonaFarm on Twitter.