Horseback riders readied at the rails and began charging toward adults holding foam cups filled with bright orange Kool-Aid.
The kids had to reach down for the cup, chug the drink, then race back to the other end of the arena. The Kool-Aid race, part of the open class youth horse show on Aug. 13, is not a standard 4-H horse show event.
"It was fun, but the Kool-Aid was gross," said 9-year-old rider Danielle Podoll.
Though much of the rest of the Brown County Fair was still being set up on the morning of Aug. 13, horse enthusiasts gathered at the horse arena for a show put on by the Brown County 4-H horse program.
Kristin Gonsoir, chairwoman of the Brown County 4-H horse committee, said she likes to introduce nontraditional events at the Brown
County Fair show because it's a nonqualifying event and more low-key.
"They're just meant to be fun games," Gonsoir said. "It's good to improve their horsemanship in different ways."
McKayla Carda, 13, lives in Aberdeen and rides at El Jo Mar Arabians. She's been riding since she was 8, but Aug. 13 was the first time she competed in a marshmallow race.
Riders race to reach a partner, catch a marshmallow in their mouth and race back.
"It's a fun event to do and just have fun with," McKayla said.
The open youth horse show was open to riders younger than 21. Rain from the weekend flooded the arenas, which left slippery conditions for riders, but the event went on as planned.
"It just looks worse than it is," McKayla said.
Fiona Fliehs, 7, of Groton said she was excited for the marshmallow race. She attends rodeos and horse shows all across the state.
There was also the noodle class, which adult riders demonstrated to the youth riders, who had never competed in the event before. A beach towel was used in lieu of a foam pool noodle, but pairs of riders had to ride together through an obstacle course while holding opposite ends of the towel.
The show is meant to be a fun and relaxing experience, Gonsoir said. Unlike many other horse shows in the summer, the show does not fall on the weekend. It is usually scheduled early during fair week to avoid overlap with other 4-H events.
"Kids have already competed at the county show and have gone to state already," Gonsoir said. "It's just an event during the fair and we are trying to keep the arena busy and in use."
Twenty-one riders got into the equine action and competed in 25 classes.
The show was completely run by volunteer help. Dylan Krueger, 9, of Ferney and Josie LaMee, 11, of Groton were among the youngest volunteers and helped hand out ribbons to contestants.
"I'm just here to help out," said LaMee, a 4-H participant.
Proceeds from entry fees will go toward the dedication of the Brown County Fairgrounds horse arena, which was completed in December.
Fiona's mother, Raechel Fliehs, said it wasn't so much about the end result, but that children take on responsibility for caring for their horses.
"It's a wonderful little thing for kids to worry about an animal instead of watching TV," Fliehs said.