Sisters learn ins and outs of animal care for Pa. fair

August 14, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Gracie is going to have her hair brushed, clipped, blown dry and sprayed for extra shine in preparation for an evening competition at the Franklin County (Pa.) Fair.

And she's not even eligible to be fair queen.

Instead, Gracie's bovine coiffure will be Alicia Carey's responsibility and showpiece in the final 4-H Club event at the county fair scheduled for Aug. 20 to 26.

While obviously wanting judges' recognition of the year's worth of preparation, the experience isn't about ribbons, Alicia Carey said.

"It's like (my club leader) says, 'If you go into 4-H to win, you go in for the wrong reason,'" she said.

Indeed, the 19-year-old in her fourth and final year of 4-H involvement has several ribbons and a county junior champion award, but the thing that makes her smile when talking about the experience is sharing it with others.


Alicia's younger sister, Hannah, 14, has joined her this year on the Pa Lyn-Leigh farm run by Jamie and Jami Hartman. The Hartmans met through 4-H, and now Jamie Hartman, who the sisters call "Jamie Boy," is a leader with the Western 4-H Club.

The sisters visit their project calves four or five times a week and have learned clipping, bathing, showing and general care through 4-H.

"They teach us more and more. Every time we go out there, we learn something new," Alicia Carey said.

The county fair affords them opportunities to compete in open classes, a dress-up parade, breed competitions and the showmanship contest that requires the aforementioned beauty treatment.

The Mercersburg, Pa., sisters will be arriving at the fairgrounds on Warm Spring Road at 4 a.m. on several days to feed and use the wash racks. The day's events usually only yield a few hours of downtime in the afternoon.

"When you work with a calf, you should work with them every night because they go back to bad habits," Alicia Carey said.

She and Hannah, who said she's nervous about competing with her Brown Swiss, Tiffee, have toured every farm involved with the 4-H Club and are continuing to practice leading techniques before the fair. Both girls also are working on movie-themed costumes for the dress-up parade.

"I actually enjoy going back to the fair because then I see all the 4-H groups," Alicia Carey said.

For more information about the county fair, go to

If you go ...

What: 2006 Franklin County Fair

When: Aug. 20 to 26

Where: 3725 Warm Spring Road, Chambersburg, Pa.

Highlights: Demolition derby, food and agricultural contests, live music, games and food.

For more information, go to

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