Nine-year-old Matthew Leather holds the head of his lamb “Pax” at the start of the 4H/FFA Market Lamb Show at Washington County Ag Expo and Fair on Sunday. Next to Leather is Cole Schroyer, who was showing his lamb “Claire.”
FAIRPLAY — What’s a county fair without animals?
Along with truck and tractor pulls, demolition derbies, bull riding and live music, the chance to run your fingers through the thick wool of a sheep or touch the tough hide of a hog makes fairs a classic summertime experience.
At the Washington County Ag Expo and Fair, livestock showing got underway over the weekend with a longhorn show Saturday and lamb and sheep showing Sunday.
At a 1 p.m. market lamb show, about 15 competitors ages 8 to 18 brought their animals to the AC&T Show Arena to determine whose lamb had the best meat.
The individuals, affiliated with 4-H and FFA, learn the ropes of responsibility by raising the animals and taking care of daily chores such as feeding, watering and exercising the lambs as they get them ready for judging at the fair.
Lambs were judged in about eight weight classes.
Proud parents and friends of the youths relaxed in the barn’s grandstand while a judge carefully inspected each animal and gave an overview on a public address system.
Every once in a while, a lamb would start bucking around, forcing its owner to exert a little muscle to get the situation under control. An extra dose of Americana was added when everyone paused for the national anthem before the show.
Chris Slimmer of Myersville, Md., was there to watch his two children, Skyler, 16, and Alyssa, 12, show lambs.
Slimmer said his parents bought his kids goats when they were about 6 years old.
“That led them into the animal-showing business,” Slimmer said.
Twelve-year-old Maddie Stevens waited in a line with her lamb to enter the show arena.
Maddie said she just got started in animal showing and raising after a mother of a friend asked her if she might be interested in trying it.
When asked if it was going to be difficult for her to sell her animal, Maddie answered in the affirmative.
“l like animals” said Maddie, who raised her lamb at a friend’s property near Clear Spring.
The annual 4H/FFA Market Sale, where youths sell their animals, is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. in the AC&T Show Arena.
In Washington County, lambs usually are raised on smaller farms, said Joe Frey, the fair’s superintendent for sheep and lamb events. Lamb meat brings owners about $1.80 to $2 per pound, which is a good price, he said.
The fair runs through Saturday, offering events showcasing animals including cattle, horses, ponies, poultry, waterfowl, goats, rabbits, swine and dogs.