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Barnyard games are a funfest

August 04, 1998|By SHEILA HOTCHKIN

SHARPSBURG - Walter Martin, one of hundreds of children to compete in Ag Expo's Barnyard Olympics on Monday night, wanted to know what he was going to get for his contribution to his team.

"I don't know if I'm going to get a trophy or a paper or anything," he said solemnly, looking at his teammates for support.

He took comfort in knowing he was one of a few children to make it through the feed sack race without taking a tumble.

Organizers of the annual event said a record 200 children competed, each taking home a coupon for free ice cream, their own personal success stories and fond memories of the Ag Expo.

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Rebecca Stouffer, 9, a veteran competitor in the games, decided to come back again this year.

A member of the powerhouse green team, one of eight teams competing, she stuck close to her friend Erika Jeter, a newer competitor.

"It just sounded kind of fun," she said. "And I like the obstacle course." The course was among the many events that the girls' team won.

To successfully complete the course, the youngsters had to carry a small hay bale to a gate. There, they dropped the hay bale, climbed the gate, dove through a narrow straw tunnel, navigated a double row of tires, ran around a pole and returned the small hay bale to the next child in line.

Teresa Weaver was an informal judge for the event. She watched as one girl missed one of the tires as she ran the course. Weaver motioned her to come back, telling her she had to touch each tire.

The girl dutifully walked through three more tires, still excluding the one she had originally missed.

Weaver shrugged. "Close enough," she said.

Other events in the 7 to 11 age group included the feed sack relay race, a corn cob relay race, a balloon popping relay race and a tug-of-war.

A less competitive version of the games was devised for children under the age of 6. Weaver led them through a series of games, which included feeding the pigs in the next pavilion, gathering eggs, tug-of-war and a game of "hot cow," a take-off of hot potato.

Some of the younger children discovered they liked the stuffed cow for the game so much that they hugged it, reluctant to let it go. One little girl preferred the dirt at her feet, and spent a rousing few minutes teaching the boy next to her how to throw it before an adult quickly stepped in.

But the tug-of-war held the attention of all 80 children in the younger age group.

As the sun went down, it became evident that an early prediction made by organizer Sue Lowery was coming true.

"Parents," she had warned as the competition began. "We guarantee they will be tired and dirty."

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