Fans of the Md. State Fair try to duck sweltering heat

August 29, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Yes, the heat made it tough for the humans on opening day of the 112th Maryland State Fair yesterday. But No. 26 came to the fair in a wool coat.

Actually, it was all she had to wear. No. 26 doesn't have a name because she's a market lamb. It's OK to name breeders, but you don't want to get too attached to market sheep, explained Roxann Davis of Shepherd's Acres Farm in Middletown, Frederick County.

In the heat, No. 26 stood outside the sheep pens with her head in a holding clamp, bellowing. Just because her wool was still dripping from a cooling shower and 17-year-old Paula Davis, daughter of Roxann Davis, was about to trim her with electric clippers had no effect on the Hampshire ewe lamb's disposition.

The Davis family had fans circulating inside the pens where about 20 registered Hampshires and Suffolks from their farm would be spending fair week.

"They don't mind the heat too much because sometimes wool is insulating," Ms. Davis said.

In the cattle barn, six Holsteins from Boonsboro -- three from DeBaugh Farm and three from Lonely Willow Farm -- took their ease on the straw. It takes a day or two for the animals to adjust from the trip and to different water, DeBaugh Farm co-owner Jere DeBaugh said. But from a cooling standpoint, he said, these cows and one dairy steer are living well.

Back home in Washington County, not even reserve grand champions get two cool showers a day. But at the state fair, they do. "You've got to keep them comfortable and in tiptop shape," Mr. DeBaugh said.

And how do the animal exhibitors keep cool? Family members gathered near the animals laughed. "You see where that fan's blowing," said Mr. DeBaugh, indicating an electric fan, "on the animals, not us."

Fair officials didn't have opening day attendance figures at midafternoon yesterday. But Patrick R. Davalos, assistant to the general manager, guessed that attendance would probably be down slightly from last year's crowd of 70,000.

Eight humans were treated at the first-aid station for heat exhaustion by late afternoon, Barbara Neels, a registered nurse in charge of the first aid station, reported.

Mrs. Neels urged fair visitors to wear light clothing and hats and drink plenty of fluids before they leave home. For people with heart or other serious medical problems, days of 90-plus heat are not the best to attend the fair, she said.

"We want them to have a happy, healthy time," Mrs. Neels said.

Mike Crompton of Beltsville, who took his sons Eric, 9, and Cory, 3, to the fair, didn't think the heat was a big deal. Mr. Crompton said he expected to spend about four hours at the fair, but planned to seek out electric fans and stand in front of them.

"This isn't bad for us. It's just an average summer day," he said. Still, he acknowledged being drawn to the duck pen, where a clutch of ducklings was set up with a private wading pool.

The fair is open daily through Sept. 6 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Timonium Fairgrounds.

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