11/01/05 — Livestock shows will continue at Fair

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Livestock shows will continue at Fair

By Turner Walston
Published in News on November 1, 2005 1:52 PM

Sparse local participation has officials concerned about the future of livestock shows at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

This year, no youths from Wayne County participated in the beef heifer or market lamb shows, which are sponsored by the Wayne County Livestock Development Association. Children from Wayne participated in the meat goat and hog shows.

The beef heifer, market lamb and market hog shows are part of the Eastern Carolina Showmanship Circuit, which includes young people throughout the region. The Wayne fair is one of nine stops on that circuit.

Counties represented at this year's market lamb show included Stokes, Pitt, Harnett, Wilson, Pasquotank, Onslow, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Surry, Currituck, Perquimans, Sampson, Wake and Edgecombe, but not Wayne.

"It sort of jumps out at you," fair director Milton Ingram said. "I'm very concerned that we don't have more Wayne County participation."

Ingram said it costs the Livestock Development Association about $10,000 annually to put on the shows. In addition to premiums paid to winners, each child showing an animal is given $5.

"It's a large expenditure to promote the livestock industry in the county," he said. Ideally, Ingram said he would like more of that money go to Wayne County young people.

Howard Scott, county director with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, said he was not alarmed by the numbers from the two shows.

"This is an agricultural fair run by the Livestock Development Association, and I think it's a perfect match," he said.

Scott said the livestock shows are valuable in teaching life skills.

"We're not just trying to figure out who has the best animal," he said. "We're judging not the animal, but the child. That's youth development. The animal happens to be the vehicle."

The livestock circuit gives children an opportunity to meet people with common interests from across Eastern North Carolina, he said.

"I think it's nothing but a positive thing that young people have an opportunity to exhibit not just an animal, but their skills."

Scott said more Wayne County children participate in the Livestock Show and Sale in the spring, which is exclusive to children involved in Wayne County 4-H or Future Farmers of America.

Cooperative Extension livestock agent Eileen Coite said she isn't concerned with the Wayne County participation in the cattle and lamb shows.

"With the fair being a regional fair, we still have a tremendous amount of participation from counties that I would consider in the region," she said.

She said hogs and goats are a natural choice for local children.

"The reality of agriculture in Wayne County is we don't raise a lot of lambs," she said. "If they're showing hogs or goats instead of lambs, I don't have a problem with it."

Cattle are tougher animals to work with in preparation for shows, Mrs. Coite said.

"Kids are doing so many different activities," she said. "Sometimes it's just more practical for them to stick to showing a hog."

Despite the lack of Wayne County children in two shows, Mrs. Coite said livestock show participation was steady.

"I think our numbers were really pretty close to where they've always been. The hog shows had a little more participation."

Mrs. Coite said a core group of about 30 Wayne County children showed their animals at this year's fair.

"There were about 70 children in the goat show, and 25 were from Wayne County," she said.

There are advantages to regional participation, she said.

"When you bring in people from other counties, that just promotes our fair. And for the people of Wayne County that maybe don't get to see lambs very often, it gives them the opportunity to do that."

Ingram said the fair committee does not plan on cancelling the shows, but is considering re-working the schedule.

"As far as I know right now, we will continue to have all the shows that we've had in the past," Ingram said. "We definitely think that's super-important. That's something that's been a tradition for years."