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Rain keeps conditions muddy at Ag Expo

August 02, 1999|By GREG SIMMONS

There weren't many people at the Ag Expo Sunday who didn't have mud on their clothes.

A 20-minute downpour soaked the grounds at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center at 2 p.m., leaving slick mud and puddles the size of wading pools.

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Adults and children had mud and straw caked to the soles of their shoes. Some children took off their shoes as they splashed in muddy water that came almost halfway up their calves; some left their shoes on to wade in the mudholes.

Drizzle continued for another hour or so, but no scheduled events were canceled.

The horse show began a half hour late because of the rain, which left mud in the grassy areas around the show ring.

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In the fitting and showing contest, the contestants competed on the basis of their horses' appearance and behavior. Keeping the animals clean was difficult, said Bill Miller, whose 12-year-old daughter, Amber, won first place in that contest.

Just before the contest, Miller wiped down his daughter's boots with a wet towel, then brushed any mud off his daughter's horse. He also said the mud can be dangerous for the riders and the horses because it is so slippery.

An impromptu civil engineering project began when one tent began to flood. The tent that housed the 4-H Livestock and Texas Long Horn clubs' cattle was 30 feet down a hill from a new barn, which had not been fitted with gutters yet. The runoff went straight into the tent.

Art and Cindy Cosner were in the tent trying to keep their cattle dry. At one point, one stable in the tent had four inches of water, Cindy Cosner said. Art Cosner, 41, said the cattle could become sick if they are not kept dry.

About 10 others joined in to dig a ditch to lay a drainage pipe through the middle of the tent, and a backhoe was called upon to dig a drainage ditch above the tent so it wouldn't continue to flood.

The rain even affected indoor events. After the 4-H fitting and showing contest, judge Robert Leib told the contestants to hold their animals with two hands whenever they were with them. He said a crack of lightning could send a sheep running.

Leib said he was once showing a sheep when a cage door slammed shut next to him and the sheep bolted, "I learned my lesson," he said.

The attendance was low at the expo, but Sunday is traditionally a low attendance day, said Jeff Semler, a Cooperative Extension Service agent who helped organize the expo. During the rain, the indoor exhibit hall was practically empty except for a handful of vendors.

The Ag Expo will continue today through Friday at the Ag Ed Center on the Sharpsburg Pike 10 miles south of Hagerstown.

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