Five points was all that separated the local 4-H team of Courtney Calder, Joe Sletmoen, Simone LeBlanc, and Jen Sletmoen from advancing to the semi-finals at the “Go for the Gold” provincial showdown Saturday in Toronto.
Six teams competed in the event, held in conjunction with the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, with the top four advancing to the semi-finals after three games in round-robin play.
The local foursome, representing Northern Ontario, was tied for fourth place with a 1-2 record, forcing a tie-breaker that was decided on the last question.
“Everyone on our team knew the answer to the question, ‘What’s the main language spoken in Brazil?’ Well, it’s Portuguese,” Joe Sletmoen noted Monday evening.
“We just weren’t quick enough,” he admitted.
“They knew their stuff,” echoed team coach and chaperone Wilma Sletmoen. “But the other teams were quicker on the buzzer.”
Grey County emerged as the 1999 champs, with Halton Region as the runner-up. Other teams competing there were Leeds, Durham West, and Middlesex.
Despite the heart-breaking loss, Joe Sletmoen said everyone was quite pleased with their performance, noting they did pretty well considering it was the first time any of them had taken part in “Go for the Gold”—let alone compete in the provincial finals.
“We won a game and we all had blast, I know that,” he enthused. “And just experiencing the Royal Fair was just unbelievable.”
“I’m really proud of them,” beamed Wilma Sletmoen. “The competition was fairly stiff there. There were teams that have had a lot more practice than we do because they have more rounds to go through to get there.
“Plus there are some older kids,” she noted.
“All these kids wanted to do was represent the area well,” she continued. “The kids themselves were very happy with how they did and they certainly enjoyed the fair.”
Wilma Sletmoen hoped other district 4-H members took advantage of the “Go for the Gold” program, which she called a “golden opportunity.” Just from what she saw on this trip, she said it was a valuable learning experience for all the participants.
“It’s easy not to be aware of the range of the 4-H program and the opportunities there are in 4-H,” Sletmoen remarked. “They learned a lot just preparing for it. They learned a lot about the board of 4-H programs rather than the local clubs.”
“Not only do you learn a lot about 4-H, you meet a lot of people,” added Joe Sletmoen. “Just from the experience I had, I think everybody should try it.”