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Annual county youth fair runs through Saturday

August 05, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. - Amid the goats and the games, the horses and the hogs, there are plenty of lessons at the Berkeley County Youth Fair, which runs today through Saturday.

Young scientists explore rocket propulsion or the relationship between velocity and distance. Teenage environmentalists think up new uses for what others write off as refuse.

But beneath the skills, crafts and accomplishments are deeper lessons about thinking and being, said Doug Hovatter, a West Virginia University Extension Service 4-H agent in Berkeley County.

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"How to persevere, critical thinking, a sense of community," Hovatter said.

"Coping skills - how to deal with loss," he added, referring to the sadness children feel when it's time to sell animals they've raised.

Greg Yebernetsky said his daughter cried for three days the first time she parted with a goat she raised. He figured she wouldn't want to go through it a second time.

"But she did it again and she cried last year," he said.

Sunday, the mood was upbeat as scores of people worked on final pre-fair details.

As he moved from barn to barn, Hovatter greeted and shook hands with people he recognized. Most were busy, but chatted and smiled back. Some children were not so busy and played cards.

Indoor exhibits were arranged, just so, on rows of tables.

Hovatter said there are usually 2,000 to 2,100 exhibits at the fair, but he thinks there will be more this year.

The 55th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair will be at Harry D. Shelley Park, east of Martinsburg. A dog show, truck and tractor pulls, a rodeo, a celebrity milking contest, musical performances and a "destruction derby" are among the featured events.

Friday evening, market animals will be sold.

"That usually generates well over $100,000," Hovatter said. "That's income for several kids for college."

Hovatter said Berkeley County has one of the nation's two multiday youth fairs. The other, in Minnesota, started after Berkeley County's did.

Between exhibitors, vendors and spectators, about 50,000 people will be at the fairgrounds over the next week, Hovatter said.

Sitting near his father in the goat barn, 17-year-old Ben Yebernetsky said he may have found a career goal through 4-H. After attending Camp Frame near Hedgesville, W.Va., for many years, he became a counselor.

He likes working with children. "They still trust you and think you're knowledgeable," he said.

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