FAIRMONT - Anyone going to the Martin County Fair this week undoubtedly will encounter the work of one of the Melson children.
The family is steeped in 4-H, and with six children eagerly participating over the years, they are well versed in fair competition.
"The Martin County Fair is like the Super Bowl for a farm kid," said dad Tracy Melson.
GLASS?MASTER?— Seth Melson of Trimont poses Tuesday with his stained glass projects submitted to the Martin County Fair in Fairmont. Melson learned to create stained glass from his grandfather.
Tracy was active in 4-H as he was growing up, and each of his children has followed suit. Showing sheep, hogs and other projects, the kids keep busy.
Seth Melson, a 14-year-old going into ninth grade at Martin County West, has been showing stained glass for the past couple years, even making it to the State Fair last year.
Seth learned the art of making stained glass six years ago, at the ripe old age of 8, when his grandfather taught him the ropes.
Robert Melson was an avid stained glass maker before his eyesight began to fail and, according to his son Tracy, he was determined to teach his art to someone.
"I am the only one [of my siblings] who kept doing it," Seth said. "It gives me something to do, and I like the oohs and ahhs."
Seth spends a lot of time working on the glass. His current 4-H project, a floor lamp, took him a month to complete, working two to three hours per day.
"Whenever we can't find him we listen and we hear him down there grinding," Tracy said.
Seth inherited his grandfather's tools, and he has a studio in his basement where he works. He shares each project with his grandfather at visits.
"He is living vicariously through Seth," Tracy said.
As he gets older and more practiced in stained glass making, Seth has begun making projects for others - lamps, suncatchers - and repairing damaged glass people bring to him.
All this while working on the farm and keeping up his grades.
It is just how things are done in the Melson household.
Tracy said the kids are responsible for their own projects, animal and otherwise.
"It is them getting the award, not me," he said.
His daughter Emelia, who entered a handmade dress as her project, said her mom sits with her while she figures out the patterns and uses the machine, but doesn't do the work for her.
Emelia has been entering clothing for years, and at 12 years old is finally eligible to go to the State Fair if she wins. Last year, her sheep won a trip, but she was too young to accept it.
Her brother Kristian is known in the 4-H building for his tractors. He rebuilt a John Deere from a rusty, broken-down condition. Tracy said Kristian wasn't taught how to rebuild the machine.
"He learns with his hands," Tracy said. "He is very mechanical."
The three oldest Melson children have aged out of 4-H and moved on in life, one studying agronomy at the U of M, another an art teacher, and another an epidemiologist.