This antique children’s train set was one of the other many items the Marquette man brought to Liberal this week. Daily Leader photo/Robert Pierce
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Every year, people young and old receive ribbons in a numerous variety of contests from sports to 4-H to music to fairs and everything in between.
A Marquette man, who has now reached 70, has been collecting the prizes since his childhood, and Darell Naegele expects to collect his 1,000th ribbon within the next three years.
Naegele exhibited some antiques and collectibles at this week’s Seward County Five State Fair, and he took home 40 ribbons – six white,10 red, 20 blue and four purple – for his work.
Naegele received the first of what is now 891 ribbons during his days in elementary school in 1953 at a track event, and the ribbons have continued to flow since then, including later in his days in secondary education.
“In high school, I joined 4-H and received quite a number of ribbons through the years,” he said.
Naegele went on to teach school for 18 years and later went into piano technology. Now in retirement, he still tunes pianos. He said what started as a learning experience as a 4-H student and through his work as a teacher and 4-H worker became a sideline hobby for him.
“It kind of went full circle from being a 4-H student to a leader to a teacher to a judge and back to personal exhibits for myself,” he said.
Naegele said he has received his ribbons in nine counties in two states.
“With all manner of antiques from railroad items to glassware,” he said. “With 4-H, I worked a lot with exhibits for students and teaching them how to work with all manner of things.”
Naegele has also been a 4-H camp counselor throughout Kansas, including at the Southwest 4-H Camp in Dodge City and Rock Springs Ranch in Junction City.
As he entered the adult side of 4-H as a leader, Naegele continued to enter contests with the idea of showing students how to win by winning, it would help the youth understand what it took to win.
He also went into judging, helping to determine the outcome of more than 82 4-H and music contests in 22 counties across the state, primarily in central and western Kansas.
Naegele said prior to entering the Seward County fair, he was planning to retire, but already having 851 ribbons from festivals, fairs and expositions, he was encouraged to continue to try to reach the millennium mark.
“If I get through the next couple years, I will have received 1,000 ribbons in 60 years. 2013 would be the 60th year,” he said.
Naegele said he takes in about two to three fairs a year. He said he limits that number because many fairs do not have antique exhibits.
Naegele first visited the Five State Fair in 1968, taking home the championship in the color photography contest that year. He said he wanted to return to Liberal this year because he wanted to see how the local fair had changed and to once again be a part of the competition.
“It’s kind of an interesting return, got to visit with a lot of people,” he said. “So many fairs are at the same time. You’ve got to get 105 of them in before the state fair.”
Naegele exhibited many antique hobby and collectible items at this year’s fair, and he said in addition to 1968 and this year, he has been to Liberal’s fair a number of times.
Naegele said he tries to present items of good quality that are exhibited and displayed well. He said helping school students and other youth learn has enabled him to become a more proficient judge.
Naegele said he is retired from most endeavors and has more time to go to fairs.
“I’m also with travel and tourism in Marquette,” he said. “I’ve done that for 20 years. That gets me around to quite a number of counties in the state.”
Naegele said he has a retirement date in mind in the near future.
“I wanted to retire now, but I was encouraged to hang in there to see if I could hit the 1,000 mark,” he said. “I plan to retire from active competition by 2013, which would be my 60th year of competition. By the time I get to the state fair this year, I will probably be somewhere around the 900 mark. I will probably get there before 2013, but that’s a good cutoff destination.”
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