Houston County resident and life-long 4-Her, Elden Pohlman, is the epitome of the 4-H pledge that has been recited by thousands of kids at 4-H club meetings and camps throughout the country since it was adopted in 1927.
My head to clearer thinking
My heart to greater loyalty
My hands to larger service
And my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.
Fair Manager Emily Johnson shared, “He passed away earlier this year with ALS after his five-year battle. He has been a huge staple to the Houston County Fair. Elden has been on the fair board for 26 years, holding positions as vice president and president for many years. He was very dedicated to 4-H and volunteered much of his time judging around the state. He has been awarded Friend of the Fair at the Houston County Fair (2019), and Fair Person of the Year (2020) at the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs.”
Jan Lee Buxengard, Pohlman’s sister, proudly stated that the fair came up with the familiar tagline, “Where town and country meet” during Pohlman’s rein as fair president that continues to be used to this day on promotional material. Her brother joined the fair board in 1997 and was very active planning the fair each year throughout his tenure on the board.
On Wednesday, August 16, during the 2023 Houston County Fair in Caledonia, Minn., the fair board held a ribbon cutting in Pohlman’s memory. His wife, children and their spouses, and grandchildren, as well as his sister and brother were on hand for the unveiling of the repurposed grain bin which is prominently located in the center of the fairgrounds. After the ceremony, the kids immediately climbed into the bin and started rolling around in the bright golden yellow corn kernels and tossing them at each other.
Buxengard shared that the family consisted of five siblings: Jan Lee, Arlyn, Gordon, Lorin and Elden in the family. Elden was the second boy. “My mother and dad were involved in everything. They entered everything but the kitchen sink in the open class.”
Listening to family, friends, and colleagues describe Pohlman, it became obvious that the bin is the perfect representation of Pohlman’s love of 4-H, dedication to 4-H and the kids, and to the fair, as well as his strong belief in hands-on activities.
Pohlman was a member of the Crooked Creek Hi-Flyers 4-H club, as was his father. Elden’s children (Martin, Michelle and Curtis) and grandchildren (Amber, Landon, Wyatt, Aiden, Cole, Wade and Adam) have carried on the family tradition started by Pohlman and his father.
Houston County Fair Director Lonny Tweeten describes his colleague and friend as “Mr. Fair” and went on to explain that “he lived for county fairs.” Tweeten added that Pohlman was the fair’s “unofficial” public relations man for the fair.
The question that lingers after hearing family, friends and fellow fair board members describe Pohlman and his service to his community, 4-H and the county’s youth, is where did his passion come from? Smiling, his brother Aryln attributes it to their mother, who told them they had to participate in their community.
The Caledonia Rockets 4-H club built a large wooden four leaf clover in memory of Pohlman, that proudly hangs on the wall outside the fair’s administration office on the fairgrounds,.
The Spring Grove 4-H clubs Newhouse Norsemen and Wilmington Gophers built a bench that was given to the family. It now graces the entrance to the administration, in Pohlman’s honor.
Pohlman’s impact on the Houston County Fair, 4-H in general, and Houston County’s 4-H youth will be felt for generations to come. Pohlman’s family will continue to be involved in the fair. Other memorials at the fairgrounds are planned in Pohlman’s memory.