Youths take center stage at Berkeley Co. fair

August 02, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Yes, there are fireworks. Yes, there are some country music acts and a demolition derby.

But what this fair boils down to is youths.

The 57th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair gets under way today for a week of competitions where youths give it their best in a wide range of areas from livestock raising to rocketry.

Fair organizers take great pride in having an event where youths as young as eight years old are encouraged to pick out a subject area that interests them and develop projects about them.

They are proud because the kids who participate in the fair events often go on to successful careers, said Linda Kisner, chairwoman of the fair's exhibit hall.


"We have doctors. We have lawyers. We have teachers," Kisner said.

Fair participants, ages 8 through 21, can pick from subject areas including cooking, gardening, computers, small-engine repair, natural resources, cake decorating and photography.

In the year leading up to the fair, participants follow a project book and perform other duties such as giving a talk about their subject, Kisner said. Then the fair judges grade each project and award ribbons.

The judging was conducted Sunday night at the fairgrounds north of Martinsburg off Golf Course Road. The exhibits are on public view for the rest of the week.

Inside an exhibit hall, entrants entered exhibits of butterfly collections, seed collections, birdhouses and one about wood strength.

"Which wood wins?" the exhibit asked.

In a large barn area next to the exhibit hall, youths were getting their farm animals ready for showing on Sunday.

Casey McDonald, a 17-year-old Hedgesville High School student, and her family were preparing a group of Holstein cattle for show. McDonald said she enjoys showing animals at the fair because she wants to be a veterinarian and believes the fair is a good place to begin learning about the characteristics of different animals.

McDonald's father, Dean McDonald, proudly tells how his daughter and other children work at the family farm in the Greensburg Road area up to eight hours a day with no pay.

"That tells you how much they think of it," Dean McDonald said.

A few stalls away, Jennifer Price was relaxing with a hog and mini Rex rabbits she planned to show.

Price, a 17-year-old Musselman High School student, has raised mostly rabbits through the years and the mini Rex breed are shown as pets.

Now, Price has to deal with showing an animal that will likely be slaughtered.

Any hog weighing 200 pounds or more will be sold at an auction Friday night. And with Price's hog, Eeyore, weighing in at about 250 pounds, he likely will be auctioned and then headed for slaughter.

"I'll cry. I'll bawl," said Price, who has developed a bond with the hog.

Price said Eeyore often nudges her in an interplay routine where Price sits on the hog's back and rides him around.

"I think I would have to do dairy (animals) so I wouldn't have to kill them," Price said.

Other entertainment this week includes music acts David Lee Murphy and Leroy Parnell Wednesday night and fireworks and a demolition derby on Saturday night.

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