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Five Questions with Ilsa Johnson

Ilsa Johnson won a second-place ribbon for her leghorn chickens at the Minnesota State Fair this year. (Photo courtesy Ingrid Johnson)

Ilsa Johnson, 12, of Duluth participated in a five-day livestock encampment at the Minnesota State Fair through the South St. Louis County 4-H program.  Her pair of white leghorn chickens, named Lucy and Twinkle, won a second-place ribbon on opening day, Aug. 21. We asked the 4-H-er Five Questions about her experience as a first-timer showing a project at the state fair.

Q: What was it like staying overnight at the fair? Would you do it again?

A: Our group was assigned to sleep in college dorms off the fairgrounds. It was fun staying in the dorms. It was a lot nicer than the dorms that are right above the barns because we had Wi-Fi and air conditioning. The whole experience was awesome.

I want to do it again, no matter which dorms I get assigned to.

Q: What is the key to developing a prize-winning chicken?

A: Pick a breed that will work well for what you want. Your chickens have to be born in the current calendar year to be eligible to show in the state fair.

You want to order the chicks early so they are mature enough by the time you show them. You need to take good care of them by giving them lots of quality food and water. You need to hold them a lot, so they are used to you and OK with being handled.

And you need to give them a very good bath before the fair.

Q: How did you become interested in 4-H and chickens?

A: My parents signed me up for 4-H when I was about 6. I got my first chickens when I was 8.

I started showing that year in the South St. Louis County Fair and I had a lot of fun with it, so I kept going. I have learned a lot over the years to help me achieve my goal of showing chickens at the Minnesota State Fair.

Q: What would you like to be when you grow up?

A: I want to be a veterinarian because I really like animals. I think they are very interesting. I think it would be fun to study and work with animals.

Q: You are having a pizza party at your house and can invite anyone in the world — alive or dead, famous or not. Who would you have over and why?

A: I would invite my friends. I have known a lot of my friends for a long time.  They are really great, and we always have fun together.

Compiled and edited by Mike Creger. If you have a candidate for Five Questions, send your suggestion to