Fairgrounds is home away from home for families

August 22, 2003|by DON AINES

WILLIAMSON, Pa. - While some snoozed on cots or set up folding chairs in the barns to escape the scorching heat Thursday, a number of young men and women patrolled the Franklin County Fairgrounds with squirt guns the size of assault rifles.

Activities at the fair focus on morning livestock competitions and evening competitions and entertainment, but a number of families end up spending all or part of the week camped out at the fair to keep an eye on their prize animals.

Nine-month-old Colton Hartman of St. Thomas, Pa., was beating the heat in a watering bucket Thursday. His parents, Jamie and Jami Hartman, have dairy cows that will be entered into competition in Saturday's Holstein Open.


"They have a couple of kids they hire to watch the animals while they go home and do the milking" on the rest of the herd, said Deanna Hartman, Jamie's mother.

Most people have someone stay here at night to watch their animals, said Carl Hartman, Deanna's husband and chairman of the fair's livestock committee. Farmers, 4-H and FFA members entered 216 cows, steers and heifers in various competitions, he said.

Cows prefer cool weather, but it was in the 90s Thursday and they needed plenty of care, Carl Hartman said. That includes large portable fans in the barns, washing the cows frequently, liberal doses of fly spray to keep them comfortable and the constant chore of shoveling manure.

"We can either sleep in here or sleep in a nice RV with a nice bed," said Alyssa Crider, 14, of Greencastle, Pa. Her red and white Holstein had won junior champion and reserve grand champion ribbons in the Guernsey, Jersey and Brown Swiss Open that morning.

Crider also sang her way to first place in the fair's talent contest on Tuesday. Already well-soaked from the off-and-on water fights around the fairgrounds, she was soon back to washing cows.

There are some homey touches among the bales of hay. Card tables with tablecloths, chairs and potted flowers dress up places in the barns where families have set up for the week.

Youths from the Greencastle-Antrim School District had their fair week interrupted as school began Thursday, but Renee Rebuck of Greencastle decided to leave classes early.

"I got here in time to show the three Jerseys I have," she said. Rebuck took first place in the dam and daughter competition.

"It's OK to miss the first day of your senior year," she said.

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