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The quiet delights of Ag Expo

July 28, 2005

If you're going to Washington County's annual Ag Expo at 7 p.m. tonight for the Truck and Tractor Pull, you'll see smoke and hear the roar of engines as competitors push their machines to the limit.

It will be exciting, but for us, that's not really what this event is all about. Ag Expo is a celebration of the county's agricultural heritage, and, more important, a look at the next generation of local farm families.

These young people demonstrate a determination and work ethic that many adults would be hard-pressed to match.

Many of them rise before school, before daylight even, to feed and care for the animals they raise to show at Ag Expo, and not just for a few weeks.

It requires months of work, starting with research on breeds and the purchase of an animal. And that's only the beginning.

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Like children, young livestock don't thrive without daily care. In addition to feeding and watering, that means cleaning out their pens, grooming them and monitoring them for signs of disease or injury.

Then there's the record-keeping, because unless you know how much it costs to raise an animal, you don't know what price you've got to get to make a profit when it's sold.

If you think about it, the qualities young exhibitors need to win the blue ribbon are the same ones employers say they need: The desire to show up every day, attention to detail and the ability to calculate profit and loss.

In short, these are remarkable young people. Through this Saturday, you will have an opportunity to see the next generation of local farm families quietly demonstrate what makes them special at the Washington County Ag Center on the Sharpsburg Pike.

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