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Hereford Junior Farm Fair Has To Relocate From High School Grounds

August 07, 2009|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,

As they have for 64 years, northern Baltimore County families are preparing for the annual Hereford Junior Farm Fair on Saturday, certain the event has a future but uncertain where that might be.

Their longtime location at Hereford High School is about to become a parking lot for the expanding school.

"Our barns will be torn down," said Kelly Wilson, the fair coordinator whose daughters are the third generation of the family to show at the event. "This is our last fair at the school, but none of us are saying this is our last fair."

In many ways, the fair remains true to its roots, with no midway, no rides, no fried dough; only show tents and crafts exhibits.

"Our focus is centered on the children and recognizing their hard work," Wilson said. "We are not trying to entertain crowds or make money."

Wilson and her husband, who manage a herd of 170 cows and farm 275 acres near the Pennsylvania border, said the Hereford fair has not changed much over the years.

Steve Wilson is concerned that atmosphere might change with a move. The 65th fair could take place at the $10 million Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture, now under construction in Hunt Valley.

"It is the end of a tradition, but we have to look forward to a fair that will be bigger and better," said Heather Schaefer, who teaches agriculture at Hereford High.

Still, many families would like to keep their hometown fair in Hereford.

Visitors this year will see a historical photo display and likely will meet many of those who grew up in 4-H and have promised to return this year to talk a little tradition. It is always scheduled on an early August Saturday to give participants practice before the state fair.

"The fair has continually promoted a rich farm history," said Rhonda Hoyman, technical program supervisor for Baltimore County schools. "The junior fair is more personalized and gives children ways to take pride in their accomplishments and activities."

The Wilsons' daughters Renee and Haley will be in the show ring Saturday, putting the youngest and best of the family's dairy herd before the judges.

Renee, 15, showed her first heifer at age 4, with her father Steve walking beside her.

"That was my first taste and I loved it," she said. "When I was 10, I won the cow milking contest."

Haley, 13, who bought her horse Frankie with prize money won at last year's fair, savors the friendships.

"A lot of people you know come out to watch you," she said. "You can see all your friends and have fun with the animals."

Amanda Schuster, 16, of Phoenix will be showing three heifers Saturday and likes the "small fair experience" at her high school. But she is willing to relocate to keep the fair going.

"At the Hereford fair, I have gotten to know so many people in agriculture better," she said. "I am just a little worried that we won't be able to have it, if we don't move it."

Hoyman said she is confident by making "a compromise in location," the Hereford community will continue its tradition and "keep this even strong."

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Hereford High School, 17301 York Road.

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