2009-07-25 / Front Page

Youths ready animals for the Perry County Fair

by Scott Rawdon

NEW LEXINGTON - It takes all year to prepare for a few days at the Perry County Fair, said Bev Jarrell of Somerset, whose children have several animals entered in fair contests. "They put a lot of work into this," she said. It's not a matter of just showing up at the fairgrounds with an animal to be judged, she said. As soon as one year's contests are finished, kids start thinking about breeding animals to be ready for the next summer. Then there's walking the animal (sheep and goats) every day so they're accustomed to walking naturally on a leash, said Jarrell.

Troy Sweeney, 16, of Somerset, said he selects a calf in September for judging at the following summer's steer carcass competition, where contestants' cattle are first selected for slaughter, then the quality of the meat is judged later.

Sweeney's steer was one of ten selected for slaughter during Monday's steer carcass judging. Sweeney's friend, Laurie Young of Glenford, hope's Sweeney's steer renders high-quality beef, but she wouldn't know for several days. She's optimistic. "(Sweeney's) doing real good," said Young.

Sweeney said once he's selected a calf, it's really a matter of just feeding and it and giving it water as it grows, but with one exception. "You have to teach them to behave themselves" so the steer impresses the judges during the competition and isn't pulling or trying to get away. When asked if he ever had a steer that couldn't be controlled, he just nodded knowingly.

Thorn Township Trustee Rick Wilson, who was at the fair in his role as a 4-H advisor, said the carcass show helps kids understand what happens to the steer after they're sold for slaughter. "It's pretty educational for the kids," he said.

The livestock contests are also pretty exhaustive for the parents, said Jarrell. The contests are great for hers and others' children, and she personally enjoys them as well, but realistically, "you're glad when it's over," she said.

Photos by Scott Rawdon

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