Jean Fredrich's State Fair ID tag reads "Grandma Jean Horseshow."
For about 32 years, Fredrich has been the horse superintendent for the North Dakota State Fair.
Fredrich, who lives south of Des Lacs, said she got involved in the fair's horse shows when her daughter, Debbie, was small. "I started just helping," she said.
Eloise Ogden/MDN •
Jean Fredrich, of Des Lacs, is the horse superintendent for the North Dakota State Fair, shown here July 15. She’s been doing the job for about 32 years.
She said Debbie was very interested in the horses; her other daughter, Kim, was not. Debbie, who was about 4 or 5 at the time, was especially interested in the ponies that Tony Langseth and his wife had at the fair.
"My daughter just loved to be around horses. At that time all we (State Fair) had was the pony barn and one horse barn," Fredrich recalled.
"I would try to help a little and my daughter would putz with Tony and his ponies. It just seemed like every year I got a little more added ... Back then shows weren't as hard to put on. You didn't have to be certified," she said.
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Times have changed, she said. "We have to be certified we have to go to a school every five years for certification. The last one (for quarter horse certification) was in Des Moines, Iowa," she said. "The one before that was in St. Louis. It's wherever they offer it in the summer months." The school lasts for two days.
"It really was Tony Langseth, my daughter and the ponies," she said, that got her started with the State Fair job.
Now Fredrich is seeing children of kids she worked with in earlier years showing their horses at the fair.
"I've been here so long and these kids have grown up with me some have children that are showing," Fredrich said, then telling about a card she received a few days ago from a young exhibitor addressed "Dear Grandma Jean."
Her job as horse superintendent, which starts in January, entails doing all the office work everything from hiring certified judges and others involved with the shows, making sure classes offered during the fair are approved, handling entries to stabling the horses, among many other duties.
The fair gets about 600 horses. "But with the cutting, roping and the barrel bash and 4-H, I just help in those areas," she said, naming a few of the things she doesn't do.
"We do fill the barns and empty them like four times during the fair with other divisions coming and going. It makes for a real busy time," she said.
Fredrich also travels to other horse shows to do their office work. "I do the same thing hire all their judges and get their staff ready. I start in April and run out of shows in October," she said. "I've probably been on the road for 20 years. Her daughter, Debbie Raszler, of Des Lacs, goes with her when she's on the road and "runs the computer." Her other daughter, Kim Urban, lives in Minot.
Fredrich's husband, Larry, also is involved in the horse show work. "He mans my phones and takes lots of calls. He helps me a lot with the horse shows," she said.
Fredrich said the most fun she has with her job is "the people my friends, the people I meet, the new kids, the new exhibitors I help every year - always somebody needing help. They're really wonderful to work with," she said.
Some exhibitors are from Canada, mainly coming from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to show their horses at the fair. Others are from North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota.
The quarter horses are the bigger show at the fair, she said. The fair also has events for Morgans, draft and miniatures. Besides those, there are other breeds in the open show and at the 4-H level so people can see numerous breeds at the fair.
"Our farming community loves to see the draft horses and talk with the hitch horse people because it brings back memories for them," she said. She said people will go into the barn with these horses and one can hardly walk through it for all the people visiting. "They like the big horses and they like to visit with the exhibitors," she said.
When Fredrich started out as horse superintendent there was one pony barn and an old hip-roofed barn.
"We got so big we had to erect a tent. The horses (were) under a tent and we had a terrible windstorm. The tent didn't fall down but the tent made so much noise it scared all the horses. That was way back," she said.
"And then we built a lean-to onto the big old hip-roofed barn. I think we gained about 40 stalls," she said, adding, "We struggled, and grew and grew and grew. Through all the different managers I have worked with we have grown."
Fredrich has worked with five different State Fair managers. Renae Korslien is the present manager.
One of the fun things about her job is seeing people she has worked with over the years, and in some cases, now their children are exhibitors.
"Kevin (Vesey) has been coming since he was a little boy and now he's a trainer out of Bismarck and does very well," she said. Vesey's originally from the local area, she said.
Last year she said his daughter was the youngest exhibitor at the State Fair. "I don't think she was 2, maybe 1 1/2," Fredrich said.
"So the Vesey family has been coming here since Kevin was a little boy. He was an exhibitor in 4-H, then he got up to the breed shows, then he went into starting his own business. And he's got his eight stalls reserved again this year," she said.
"That's one family. Oh, there's lot of them," she added.