Lawrence and Joyce Edwards of Carey have contributed as much as anyone to Blaine County's 4-H program over many years of service. They love to share their big Belgian horses and mentor young people in the responsibilities and sheer fun of caring for animals of all kinds.
It's fitting they have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2008 Blaine County Fair. Owners and operators of Sagebrush Belgians for 18 years, the couple has also received the 2007 Distinguished Service Award at the district and state level for their dedication to 4-H.
"I love 4-H," said Joyce Edwards. "It's a program that when followed correctly does a lot for the kids. I've been involved for 30 years, starting when my kids were Cloverbuds. I just love the kids."
August is a very busy month for the Edwards, who have five handsome Belgian horses and four wagons and take part in plenty of fairs and rodeos.
They rode in their wagons and carriages pulled by Belgians like Blondie and Robin in the Carey Pioneer Days parade and rodeo July 26. Of course they plan on being at the Carey county fair, and at Gooding Aug. 16, and in the Ketchum Wagon Days parade Aug. 30.
For years they have provided their teams of horses and wagons to community events across the state for parades, trail rides and other events.
Whether they're using their Big Hitch wagon for the Western Idaho Fair competition in Boise, or lending their Belgians to pull Lexie Anderson's Yellowstone stage with the familiar saloon girls, the Edwards have contributed to the richness of the modern West.
Joyce said, "We've been in the Wagon Days Parade every year since 1991."
Lawrence Edwards, 72, grew up in Walla Walla, Wash., and Milton-Freewater, Ore. His love of horses began at a young age. He did custom farming in the Washington and Oregon valleys. Then he came to Idaho in the mid-1970s and worked for John Deere Tractor in Twin Falls and for Jerome Implement.
At the Blaine County Fair, Lawrence has been an animal specialist who directs fitting and showing skills while also addressing housing, transportation and health issues. He has produced most of the pigs shown at the fair and used for educational purposes.
His expertise and helping hand have been invaluable to young people. Lawrence makes several trips to each weigh-in collecting 4-H pigs for young people who don't have a trailer.
Joyce, his wife of 29 years, has been the organizer and his trusty partner through it all.
She stays busy recording weights and collecting fees and information. She posts 4-H events at local stores and post offices. She attends nearly all 4-H Leaders' Council meetings as the secretary. For several years the couple floored the swine at the Market Animal Sale.
Born in Twin Falls, Joyce moved to Carey in 1956. Her deep love of farming, animals, swimming and children led her to become involved in teaching Red Cross swimming lessons for 20 years and also to become active in 4-H.
Her three children, Laurie, Tracey and Leta, were all involved in 4-H. In recent years the couple's grandchildren, Terra, Shelby and Sheldon, have all pitched in with the horses and the work. Shelby has become particularly adept with the horses and driving the wagons in many of the parades.
Members of the Idaho Pork Board and extremely knowledgeable in 4-H swine projects, the Edwards remain committed to promoting 4-H and the need for new leaders in the program.