Passions stoked at state, county fairs

• Zimmerman teen’s love of horses, learning, photography will be quenched at State Fair

by Jim Boyle


Anna Serbus, 17, of Zimmerman, has many passions, and she fuels most of them at state and county fairs through her involvement in 4-H programs.

This year the member of Richochet Riders 4-H Club will have her photography on display at the Minnesota State Fair and a chance to delve into the world of newspaper reporting through a media project she will undertake while at The Great Minnesota Get-Together.

That means she will be immersed in coursework the first couple days on subjects like interviewing, writing and photography. What might sound like school work to some of her peers is an opportunity to learn something new.

“I’m really excited,” she told the Star News. “I just love fairs.”

Anna Serbus
Anna Serbus

As part of her media project, Serbus will interview a young man with special needs and his family to report how he experiences the world and how the world around him treats him. It’s the kind of plum assignment that intrigued her.

“I have always been a deep thinker,” she said. “I’m curious about the world around me and I am future-focused.”

She said she has enjoyed her experience around people with special needs and looks forward to writing about things she’s passionate about and learning how to write reports in the process.

“It’s always good to have more knowledge,” she said.

She’d take more knowledge over a new blouse any day. “What I am wearing today will not matter five years down the road,” she said.

Serbus, who will turn 18 in September, would be a senior at Spectrum High School this fall, but she only has three required classes left and too many passions to sit behind a desk for 30 to 40 hours a week. She says she will finish her high school career online and pursue her passions with the rest of her time.

She plans to attend Anoka Ramsey Community College to complete her general education classes and then transfer to a school to get a degree in horse training.

“I want to make a career out of it when I’m young,” she said.

Her interest in horses preceded her involvement in 4-H, but once she got introduced to 4-H, she began pursue her passion more vigorously.

She started out in 4-H showing her springer spaniel at the Sibley County Fair. That was fun but the idea of a horse project was even more intriguing. Sarah Serbus, a cousin of hers who lives two hours from her family’s home in Zimmerman, would eventually buy her a horse.

Shiloh, Anna Serbus' first horse, is now 12 years old.
Shiloh, Anna Serbus’ first horse, is now 12 years old. This is one of many pictures she has taken of the horse, and it was on display at the Sherburne County Fair this summer.

That horse, Shiloh, is now 12. It’s boarded at a friend’s house in Isanti near her home.

It was the summer of 2011 that Anna’s interest in horses was finally quenched when she spent a summer at Sarah Serbus’ home learning how to train horses for barrel races and train a couple of pricey ponies with remarkable bloodlines. Her cousin eventually surprised her with a second horse, a baby of one of the horses she helped train. Salsa is now 4 years old.

Anna Serbus’ favorite thing to do on a horse is timed events like barrel racing. She has done pleasure riding and other forms of riding that are judged on performance of the horse and rider but has focused in on barrel racing and pole weaving.

Anna and Shiloh
Anna and Shiloh

In all, she has participated in two Sibley County Fairs and four Sherburne County Fairs. Along the way she has shown her dog, cows and rabbits, but one year she had no choice but to limit her fair activity to horse events.

She had what she thought was a prized cow die shortly before the fair and two days later her rabbit she had been prepping developed warts. Showing animals is not easy, as a lot goes into getting them the perfect weight, build and stance and plus there’s the study of them that comes with it. Participants are asked everything from what they fed an animal to history of the breed.

Serbus took 2013 off from 4-H, a decision to step away from social drama and work closely with one of her horses that had become wild.

Anna Serbus, of Zimmerman, and Shiloh, one of her two horses.
Anna Serbus, of Zimmerman, and Shiloh, one of her two horses.

“I needed to get him to relax,” she said. “I had to get back to the basics.”

This year she got back in it and earned a spot in the state fair with an award-winning photo of her bunny named Lucy. It’s not her favorite shot. She actually likes one of Lucy chomping on a dandelion.

“I like that one best because its humorous,” she said.

She also competed in the horse events and did quite well in the pole bending event, but her and her horse’s personal best time in pole bending was erased when the last pole in the race got knocked off.

Serbus will take part in the state fair’s 4-H media project with two other youth, including her friend Beka Brown, of Big Lake.

Once the state fair is over she and Brown have plans for another  project and more learning.