4-H fair offers a glimpse of livestock and farming

Tradition: Nearly 800 youths entered Carroll County's 102nd 4-H/FFA Fair. Different activities will be scheduled each day.

August 01, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Patience doesn't come easily when it's 100 degrees, whether you're a half-ton heifer or a 9-year-old girl trying to hold onto one.

"They get bored," said Ashley Sprecher, as she hushed and tried to calm a restless Helena, the Simmental she entered in the Carroll County 4-H Fair beef show yesterday.

They were amply rewarded for their virtue, winning a blue first-place ribbon and a pink reserve champion ribbon in their class.

The announcement by the judges sent a cheering section of about a half-dozen of Ashley's relatives to their feet with whoops and applause.

Ashley is one of nearly 800 youths entering in the 102nd Carroll County 4-H Fair, which has about 14,000 exhibits.

Most of those exhibits walk around on four legs, but others include banners, posters, booth displays, woodworking and tailored wool clothing.

Agriculture is the main attraction at this fair, which started Friday. Admission and parking are free, and there is no midway, although a number of vendor booths offer for sale items ranging from Tupperware to tractors.

But mostly, county residents who attend get a microcosmic peek at livestock farming and face-to-face contact with animals.

"I like the sheep," said Rosa Sullivan, 6, who was lunching on a hot dog after helping friends groom their lambs. She attended the fair with her mother, Karen Dattilio, and grandparents, Jayne and Dominic Dattilio.

The Dattilios said they plan to come to the fair every day of the week, until it closes on Saturday.

"We live just over the hill," Jayne Dattilio said. "We like to watch the sheep judging and all the beautiful crafts and things the kids make."

For these children and teens, the fair is the culmination of projects that may have begun two years ago -- Helena the heifer, for example, is 15 months old.

Joanna Stewart, 15, of Emmitsburg, started even earlier on her entry: a 17-month-old Red Angus beef heifer that won second place in her class yesterday.

"I bred her on our farm, so I could control the bull I use and the cow," Joanna said.

The judging is based largely on the animal's qualities, and breeding has a lot to do with that, Joanna said. Judges look for the animal's capacity to bear a calf and how well it is groomed.

Joanna lives on a beef farm, but Ashley and her mother, Linda Cockey, aren't farmers -- many 4-H club members are not. Cockey and her daughter raise animals for 4-H at their home in Keymar. Cockey was a 4-H member herself once. Now, she's a bartender.

"I worked until 2 a.m. last night, came home and slept for two hours, and was up again at 5: 30 so we could feed the animals," Cockey said proudly, with no hint of weariness. "We got here at about a quarter to 7."

Ashley also has entered a Black Angus steer in the fair, and hopes to sell it at the fair auction Friday to recoup some of the $1,200 they have spent on feed for their animals this year.

The fair continues with different activities each day, and a kitchen is open for lunch with homemade food, much of it made from locally raised hogs, cattle and vegetables.

Highlights for today are a series of events that begin at 1 p.m., including a "Pedal Pull" for children, in which they can try to pull a weight with a child-size pedal tractor; an antique carriage show, a family music festival, a parade, horse drill team and the farm queen contest.

Monday includes the English horse show starting at 8 a.m., a llama show at 6: 30 p.m. and a mule pull at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, "Children's Day," features crafts that youngsters can make and take home, and Wednesday features the Western horse show and the cake auction in the evening. Thursday is Senior Citizens' Day, and Friday features a popular pit beef and pork buffet and evening livestock auction.

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