Sights and sounds from 25th annual Ag Expo

July 26, 2005|by ADAM BEHSUDI

A self-described multitasker, Kris Gallagher, 30, of West Hazleton, Pa. found herself working in the shadow of her son's behemoth longhorn steer at the Washington County Ag Expo on Monday.

"I do whatever they tell me," Gallagher said. "I'm a pitchfork princess."

She was helping her son with the day's task of getting the animals ready for show. The giant, black-and-white steer earned its share of "oohs" and "aahs" from the groups of small children passing by.

Gallagher, who barely came up to the steer's shoulder, said its horns measure 68 inches from tip to tip.

"They're the best cow," she said. "They can withstand any weather."

She said the longhorns from her farm were even saddle broken and could be ridden.

Although she was repeatedly chastising a much smaller, red and white speckled longhorn bull trying to eat the grass under the bleachers, Gallagher said the hearty breed is a good one to raise.


"They're very easy to maintain," Gallagher said.

Sitting in a folding chair with his hand wrapped around a cold Mountain Dew, Shawn Wiles, 16, of Fairplay, was keeping an eye on his dairy cows.

"I'm watching them to make sure they don't get dirty," he said.

Wiles, who said he has been showing animals since he was 8 years old, is showing two of the dairy cows from his family's farm in Fairplay.

He even transferred from Williamsport High School to Clear Spring High School so he could participate in the FFA program there.

In the shade of the barn, among the roar of the fans, Wiles looked pretty comfortable.

He said he gets good offers from the individuals and businesses that buy his animals at Ag Expo.

"Usually it's better here than it is at auction," Wiles said. "They're trying to help 4-H out."

At the petting zoo, Anna Blazes, 6, peered into a pen that held a cow and a calf. She was waiting for the calf to start nursing.

Her mother, Jennifer Blazes, 39, of Hagerstown, said the petting zoo was a favorite among her three children.

"We come out every year to see the baby animals and climb on the farm equipment," Blazes said.

She said last year at the petting zoo, a pig named Jill, the same name as that of her 5-year-old daughter, was due to have piglets. Blazes said the family came three times to see if the pig gave birth. On their third visit, they lgot to see the newborn litter.

Blazes said they always look for the runt piglet in a new litter in honor of Wilbur in "Charlotte's Web."

While piglets were the children's favorite animal, they were eager to move on and see what was in the next pen.

Kaitlin Shinham, 13, of Sharpsburg, has her hands full at this year's Ag Expo caring for two steers and a horse. On Monday morning, she was grooming one of her Angus steers to be shown today.

Buddy, Shinham's steer, seemed to like the metal-toothed comb she was running through the thick black hair along the ridge of his back.

"This is my first year showing steers," Shinham said.

She said she thinks the competition is going to be pretty heavy on show day as she pointed to the barn full of steers behind her. For now Shinham is doing her best to keep her animals in tip-top shape.

She said she has to wash her steers every other day so their skin doesn't dry out. Grooming, she said, is a labor- intensive job.

"I think it's a lot of work, but other people might not," she said.

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