To say that Layne Epley is a tough kid would be an understatement. It would have been easy for the Waverly 12-year-old to put on hold his plans to show his animals at this year’s 4-H show.

The coronavirus pandemic canceled the Bremer County Fair, for the first time in the fair’s 145-year history.

But kids like Layne, who worked for months on raising and caring for animals they wanted to show at the fair, had the option of doing so since 4-H organizers offered a Show & Go format for the achievement shows. It meant that participants and their families were allowed to attend in person, and were to leave after the event, but the shows were closed to the general public.

But beyond the pandemic, Layne had a personal challenge he had to deal with as the fair approached.

He shattered his knee cap earlier this spring, but he still was determined to be at the fair.

He showed Hawkeye, a chicken named for its colors, at the fair. His mom, Amy, used to be a member of 4-H, and she instilled the love for animals in her kids. Her grandmother, Betty Arns, was the founder of the 4-Square club, which then went to Betty's daughter and Amy's aunt, Jen, and is soon expected to be under Amy's leadership. The club has 25 kids, and Layne is one of them.

Layne has been showing at the fair for five years, but this year, his only option was the chicken, since he can only move with the help of crutches as he awaits surgery for his knee.

On Wednesday morning Layne sat next to the portable cage with his hen, Hawkeye, named after the state for its colors, and both boy and bird were in great spirits.

Layne said he plans to continue to raise Hawkeye after the fair and collect eggs, and this editor could not resist asking him if the whole newsroom would be welcome for an omelette breakfast as soon as the coronavirus is under control.

Hawkeye, who hatched in April, seemed to rest comfortably in the hands of his owner even though it was its first experience at the fair.

Amy said that it was important for her and her boys to show their animals in. person

"We live for the fair every year," Amy said.