July 11, 2011
Junior Fair set to begin Tuesday
58th annual event showcases youth’s ability in all things agricultural
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
David Phillips, 13, of Windswept Maple Farm in Sempronius sets up stalls for his show animals at the Cortland County Junior Fairgrounds Saturday.
Preparations for the Cortland County Junior Fair were under way Saturday, as fairground superintendent Dick Bush and Cornell Cooperative Extension Executive Director Sydney McEvoy helped construct hand-washing stations and prepare the barn for cows.
Holstein cows were beginning to fill the barn Saturday, munching hay and laying on the cool floor, in preparation for the Holstein Show Sunday and today.
The 58th annual fair will run Tuesday through Saturday but preparations for the five-day event are a year in the making, Bush and McEvoy said Saturday. The Cortland County Agricultural Corporation Board, which plans the fair, must start soliciting sponsors ahead of time and promote and advertise the event.
“The fair gives kids a way to qualify to show at the State Fair,” McEvoy said, adding the New York State Fair requires county show experience.
The county junior fair will feature children under the age of 19 highlighting their skills in various areas, such as poultry, dairy and other agriculture. The youth display their knowledge and experience, showing off their livestock or food exhibits.
McEvoy said the Agricultural Board meets year long and maintains the fairground year round, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Holstein Club. Each entity owns a different section of the fairground.
In the spring when water is turned back on for the facility, the maintenance of the facilities increases, with lawn mowing once a week and any necessary repairs made. The board begins advertising and promoting the event and seeks state licensing in January.
Bush’s wife, Martha, said this year the fair has about 80 sponsors for the event. Sponsors contribute $20 to the event which helps to pay for operating expenses. Sponsors can also donate equipment or pay for prizes, such as the cash awards given by the Holstein Club for the winners of the dairy show.
“The response from the community has always been really good,” McEvoy said.
The fairground is inspected by the state every year and this year the state required the board to safeguard the bleachers against children falling. To comply with the regulations, Dick Bush added wire mesh below the bleacher seats and a chain link fence on the sides of the railings.
This year the state also required hand washing stations, which prompted Dick Bush to build two self-contained units that will be positioned outside the two buildings where animals will be kept.
The planners are expecting a good turnout this year, with participation in each category up. McEvoy said 90 children are showing dairy cattle, the largest number ever.
A new addition this year is a reception for elected officials Thursday night. County and state legislators have been invited to attend the event, said McEvoy. A Fair Queen contest will take place Tuesday and the winner will be the ambassador for the fair.
The fair receives $3,500 from the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, which is put into a pool that is divided up among the winners of all exhibits. The amount of each prize is determined by how many winners there are so it fluctuates yearly.
An agriculture awareness tent will feature different exhibits daily.
Martha Bush said the focus of the fair is to emphasize the importance of agriculture.
“Where food comes from and how to take care of it. Those are things you don’t learn in school or a book, you have to see it,” she said.
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