Families, organizers gearing for Berkeley Youth Fair

August 01, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Participants in the 58th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair were making final preparations Sunday for today's opening, including getting herds of livestock ready for this week's judging.

Ryan Gosnell, 11, a Hedgesville, W.Va., 4-H member, was one of hundreds of Berkeley County youths getting animals into their pens and cages.

Ryan is showing Porkey, his male pig. Ryan said he feeds Porkey pig pellets and pig feed. He said this is the second year he entered a pig.


Katie Hessler, 10, is showing her goat, Buster. She said this also is her second year to enter a goat.

Both Ryan and Katie said they received participation ribbons last year.

Katie said when the participants are in the arena with their animals, the judge uses hand signals, "so you have to watch the judge at all times."

Bev Yebernetsky, goat judging chairwoman, said in showing any animal, "you should never get between the judge and your animal." The animal is walked in a large circle in the arena, she said. A cane is used to guide pigs, and goats are held by their collar.

Hillary Barrow, 12, also from Hedgesville, is showing Spoink, a 6-month-old pig who weighs about 215 pounds. Hillary won a blue ribbon last year with her hog, Buddy, said her father, Paul Barrow. Her brother, Phillip Barrow, 8, will show his female pig, Blacky.

Heidi Chrisman, 16, of Bunker Hill, W.Va., is showing English spot rabbits, which are white with black markings. Heidi said she won grand champion and the grand champion in showmanship two years ago with her rabbit, Lucy.

Blue, her buck, and Georgett, her doe, are both about 1 1/2 years old. She said the judges look for "the characteristics of the rabbits, like how well they are marked."

In showmanship, Chrisman said, "in front of the judges, you check them over, looking for any health concerns, and you speak to the judges while you are checking." She said the judges will question the participant to find out how much they know about the breed.

Chrisman said she has been a 4-H member for six years. "I love it. I don't know what I'd do without 4-H."

Carolyn Bohrer, Berkeley County Youth Fair treasurer, said about 30,000 attended last year's fair.

Bohrer said "this is only one of two totally youth fairs in the United States." She said there are a lot of youth groups in Berkeley County.

"Berkeley County is growing by leaps and bounds," she said.

Bohrer said Berkeley County has 22 4-H Clubs, three Future Farmers of America (FFA) and three Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) groups, plus Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Boys & Girls Club in Martinsburg.

About 800 exhibitors are expected this year, she said.

"This is a wonderful experience for the youth and their families. It is a family affair. The kids learn responsibility," Bohrer said.

Bohrer said she has been fair treasurer for eight years. "Everybody is a volunteer. When my boys were growing up, this was one of their favorite fairs," she said.

In addition to livestock, other indoor exhibits include plants and garden to woodworking and cake decorating projects. The fair exhibitors range in age from 8 to 21, said Carolyn Linton, wife of Steven Linton, president of the fair board.

"It gives the kids a lot of opportunities to make friends for life," she said.

Linton, who handles publicity for the fair, said the fair "is a generation family thing."

She said, "My father-in-law was fair president for a long period, and my husband is president in his third year and was president 10 years ago. His brother was president as well."

"It's like a big family reunion all week," Linton said.

If you go...

What: 58th annual Berkeley County Youth Fair

When: 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., today through Saturday

Where: Youth Fairgrounds on Golf Course Road outside Martinsburg, W.Va.

Cost: $5 per day; free for ages 12 and younger; free for all before noon each day.

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