Howard County Fair to begin 8-day run Animals, rides, fun among attractions

August 13, 1993|By Rona Hirsch | Rona Hirsch,Contributing Writer

The Howard County Fair, celebrating farm animals, produce and crafts, returns tomorrow to West Friendship for its 48th season, offering swine and insect races, baby beauty contests and a peak at animal ancestry.

Fair organizers estimate that -- depending on the weather -- 100,000 people may visit the fairgrounds over the eight-day run.

"Attendance varies with weather," said fair board vice president James R. Moxley III. "Last year it rained five days. We don't count heads, but attendance was definitely down. It was cold and wet."

Amid the fair's traditional attractions is a new exhibit offering visitors a chance to trace the heritage of domesticated animals.

The Catoctin Mountain Zoo Park of Thurmont will set up a continuing educational exhibit and petting zoo that includes a "Touch Me Tent."

The tent will house about 50 animals, including the South American tortoise, South American llama, Barbados sheep, African pygmie goat, miniature donkey and ball python.

"These are just to show ancestry of domestic animals," said the zoo volunteers coordinator, N. Carole Brown of Union Bridge. "We want to teach that these animals can be your friends. And also that when you touch these animals, you're reaching across 10,000 years.

"The animals -- goats, pigs, sheep and cattle -- are [typical] domestic animals seen at fairs because farmers have domesticated them over 10,000 years. But they are usually from Middle East countries."

Wooden signs will be placed by the farm animal stalls to signal visitors to the family connections between these exotic animals and the average beast of burden.

They will read: "Visit my ancestors at the Touch Me Tent." Signs in the Touch Me Tent -- "Visit my relatives in the sheep barns" -- will alert viewers to descendants in the livestock barns.

The "Taming of the Wild" signs will explain differences between beef and dairy cows, in addition to the map showing the origins of the ancestral breed of goats, sheep, pigs and cattle.

Pet names explored

There also will be a sign explaining the animal connection to the pet names and expressions used by humans such as "mother hen," "bullish," "Italian Stallion" and "you boor."

Another addition is the midway provided by Deggeller Attractions, the same people behind the midway at the Maryland State Fair. It will offer at least 15 rides and about 25 games.

But for the truly adventurous, the races and contests are the place to be.

Back by popular demand, Porkchop Downs returns to West Friendship.

Bob Hale of Bob Hale Pig Racing Stables Inc. of Missouri will bring his stable of Yorkshires, black and white spotted, black and white belted and Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs to compete in the fast and furious daily pig races.

In the "oh-so-cute" competition, the East Coast Miniature Horse Club Show will feature about 20 miniatures from the state and Virginia competing in the obstacle, over-fences and driving [carts] categories.

In this egalitarian fair, even the lowly annelid gets a chance to strut his stuff.

The 4-H Clover Colossal International Worm Race event on Aug. 21 for 6- and 7-year-olds offers one open class for any youngster with something creepy to exhibit.

The three categories are Slimies: earthworms, night crawlers and slugs; Fuzzies: caterpillars and woolly bears; and Pedes: centipedes and millipedes.

In the all-human competition, the Farm Queen Contest on Sunday will give one of five county teens the opportunity to be a LTC spokeswoman for agriculture at civic affairs.

Contestants include three representatives from Mount Airy -- Rebecca Reinhardt, 16; Joella Russell, 17; and Angie Johnson, 17. Also competing are Michelle Bennett, 16, of Clarksville and Stephanie Musick, 17, of Highland.

The queen also will compete in the Maryland State Fair next month for the title of Maryland Farm Queen.

Farm Queen gets prizes

But glory is not the only reward. All contestants receive monetary prizes and jewelry. The Farm Queen also walks away with a tiara created by Littman Jewelers of Westminster and a silver tray.

Royal watchers may notice the new crown that has entered the competition. Created and donated by Groomes Jewelers in Ellicott City, the crowning achievement will be passed from queen to queen.

For the much younger generation, the annual Baby Contest and Miniature Parade returns on Aug. 21. County infants and toddlers under 3 will be divided into walking and nonwalking categories.

The nonwalkers will be pushed in decorated strollers. "Judging is based on originality and attractiveness of the decorated unit," Mr. Moxley said.

The event has apparently been around for a while. "I was in it," the 33-year-old fair board vice president said. "But I don't remember it."

His 7-month-old son, James R. Moxley IV, will continue the family tradition by competing in the hotly contested nonwalking event.

Fair visitors seeking fame and fortune may enter the Variety and Talent Show on Thursday.

L Prizes will be awarded in the children and adult categories.

"The three- to five-minute acts are usually vocal and instrumental," said fair board secretary and treasurer Doris Donaldson of Woodbine.

"But you can get up and do whatever you want -- if it's family entertainment."

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