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Washington County Ag Expo and Fair reminds people of area's agricultural roots

July 20, 2013|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
  • Sammy Bainbridge trims up a goat at the 2013 Washington County Ag Expo on Saturday.
By Yvette May / Staff Photographer

It is arguably a glamorous week for 1,024-pound Hereford beef steer Schmitty.

His typical surroundings are “all mucky,” said Caleb McDougal, 13, of Smithsburg, who raised the placid light-brown brute. This week, at the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair though, Schmitty is receiving movie-star treatment with daily baths, brushing and blow-drying.

“I’m getting him ready to show him in the ring,” Caleb said. “People will bid on my animal and pay by the pound.”

While Schmitty’s fate following purchase Thursday night might be viewed as unglamorous or even morbid, he likely will be savored by a buyer. And meanwhile, he will serve to teach important lessons to both Caleb and the community at large.

Adults and children filed through the livestock pavilion at Saturday’s Ag Expo and Fair kick-off admiring Schmitty, while Caleb enlightened them on the animal’s breed, history, health, care and feeding. Caleb said he and his sisters began showing animals at the fair some years ago because his mother did it when she was young and she wanted to pass it on. Now, he has developed a passion for it.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but during fair week, it’s all fun,” he said.

The main goal of the Ag Expo and Fair is to educate the public on agricultural awareness, venues and opportunities, said Sue Hull, president of the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair board of directors.

The event has become an annual July tradition at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center south of Hagerstown. It draws around 15,000 people over the course of eight days, Hull said.

“The heart of the fair is teaching and reminding people of the area’s agricultural roots. Where they get their clothes, where they get their food,” she said. “Here at the facilities, we have interactive learning centers where kids and adults can share that vision.”

Hull said organizers have revamped the fair over the past couple of years to make it “far more cost-effective for the community.”

Now, the $6 daily gate admission includes unlimited carnival rides, a live band, kids’ circus, petting farm, agricultural and craft displays, and more, she said. There is an additional cost for main-track events such as a demolition derby, lawn-mower racing, and monster truck and Tuff Trucks, and weekly rate passes are available.

Other opening day highlights included home arts judging, a cake auction, the Ag Expo Queen contest and bull riding.

Garrett Koser, 11, of Hagerstown won grand champion among roughly 45 competitors for his homemade angel food cake. Following announcement of the win at the cake auction, auctioneer Floyd Davis took bids on the confection. Bette Jo Shifler of the Washington County Farm Bureau ultimately took the cake for $180. Proceeds from the auction went to the local 4-H club.

Following the auction, Garrett headed over to the livestock pavilion, where he trimmed his meat goat, Jerry — a twin of his Tom and Jerry duo. His parents, Jeff and Debbie Koser, said Garrett’s participation in the Ag Expo and Fair builds his confidence in public speaking and teaches him responsibility.

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