Sami Noteboom

Sami Noteboom, 17 of rural Sheldon, and her calf Curly are ready for the show ring.

SHELDON—Sami Noteboom has been front and center at the O’Brien County Fair in Primghar showing calves for eight years, but this year she will be on another stage as a fair royalty candidate.

The 17-year-old was raised on a farm northeast of Sheldon, where she cultivated a love for animals, especially calves. Her family runs a small calf operation.

When she was about 9 years old she started showing pigs and calves at the county fair. She said her father, Jason, got her started on showing animals and it has become something she enjoys because it is unique.

“The adrenaline rush you can get from going in the ring and going in the final drive and all those things you could be getting from sports, but you’re getting it from something completely different,” Sami said. “That’s what really got me. I can be different by showing cattle.”

She has won several showmanship awards, but what she enjoys most is the friendly competition.

“When a friend and I are going into the ring together, we can talk outside the ring; we can laugh,” she said. “We’re trying to beat each other out, but when we come out we can hug each other. We can say, ‘Congratulations. You did good.’”

The time Sami spends with her calves is as important to her as anything she does in the show ring when it comes to having success in competitions.

“I have to bond with my animals to have that trust with them,” she said. “That’s a huge thing with me.”

Among her friends, it is hardly a secret how passionate Sami is about her calves.

“Everybody knows that I am obsessed with my calves. That’s all I talk about sometimes,” she said. “I don’t think people realize how much of an impact 4-H has had on my life. That’s been my place to go where I’ve met so many amazing people. I always have those people that I can rely on.”

Sami never put much thought into entering the candidate pool for fair royalty when she was younger, but she sees it as an opportunity to try something new.

“I was one of those girls that would much rather play in the mud than go play with Barbie dolls,” she said. “As I got older I kind of realized there’s more opportunities out there for you if you put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a pretty dress or in chore clothes, as long as you’re putting yourself out there as the person you want to be, that’s how people are going to see you.”

“I’m nervous; I’m excited; I’m going to be happy for whoever wins,” she continued. “I’m also nervous because anybody who applies wants to win. But I don’t think I’m going in with a competitiveness toward it. I just want to go out and try something new.”

Coronation for the O’Brien County Fair queen, king and princess will take place at 8 p.m. Monday, July 23, on the new Wayne Maass Stage at the fairgrounds in Primghar. All contestants receive a cash award and the three royalty members will receive a scholarship.