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Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Fair not all fun and games for youngsters

By Amy Kronenberger

Nathan Marchal, 12, St. Henry, and Noelle Schmitt, 15, Celina, add wood chips to. . .

CELINA - While many youngsters enjoyed kids events at the Mercer County Fair on Wednesday, others were in the barns caring for their animals.
Elizabeth Wuebker, 16, Maria Stein, had showed two heifers earlier in the week, and on Wednesday participated in the Showman of Showmen competition. It was her first year showing animals.
The Showman of Showmen competition is especially difficult, she said, because the contestants show four different animals: cow, sheep, poultry and pig.
"You have to ask other people if you can show their animal because most people don't bring all four animals with them," she said. "Then you have to get everything ready by washing them and keeping them clean; you have to learn to show all the animals and you have to answer questions from the judges."
While Wuebker prepared for her competition, Rachael Beair, 10, Rockford, celebrated winning big with her six chickens. She won grand champion roaster, reserve grand champion roaster and grand champion of production pen of poultry (hens and eggs).
Many cameras flashed as she posed with her winning chickens, championship ribbons and plaques.
"I get nervous showing them because I'm afraid I won't win much," she said of her second year showing. "I was really surprised when I won; this is the first time I won."
Beair said raising chickens takes a lot of hard work, mostly keeping them clean and cool. The pens must be cleaned often, and they must be given a daily bath.
"It's kinda easy giving them baths," she said. "Except when you clean their bottoms ... that's kinda hard."
"They're just dirty birds," her mom Peggy added.
Noelle Schmitt, 15, Celina, and Nathan Marchal, 12, St. Henry, agreed the most difficult part of showing poultry was keeping them clean.
"You have to clean them every day to keep them from getting dirty and disgusting," Schmitt said.
Schmitt showed market turkeys, ducks, geese and dairy goats. She won third, fourth and ninth in goat showmanship.
Marchal showed market goats, partridge wyandotte and golden penciled hamburg chickens. He won reserve grand champion in large fowl, first and second place for his roosters and fourth place for his market goat.
When asked if caring for chickens was an all-day, everyday job, Beair could only sigh and roll her eyes.
"Oh yeah, it's a lot of responsibility," her mom answered.
Despite the work, however, all the kids said they loved participating in the fair and wanted to keep showing animals.
Wuebker said she likes to walk around the fair when she can but spends most of her time in the barn with her animals.
"We play cards, use coloring books and play with the little kids," she said. "We do what we can to pass the time."
The fair concludes today with the livestock auction at 3 p.m. and the Broken Horn Rodeo at 7:30 p.m. in the grandstand.
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