Months of dedication bring rewards at fair

A nice payday makes up for the ups and downs of raising animals.
LISBON -- Ten-year-old Beloit resident Kyla Sharp has worked on her farm all summer to earn money for college, and she is discovering that raising and selling animals can result in a real cash cow, in every sense of the phrase.
Sharp was among many 9- to 18-year-olds who exhibited steer during the Junior Fair steer judging Thursday morning and put the animals up for sale later that evening.
The Junior Fair, a part of the Columbiana County Fair, has at least one event each day, including judging and sales of steer, poultry, hogs, goats and rabbits.
Sharp, a second-year participant, took third place in her weight class at the Junior Fair steer judging Thursday, while her 13-year-old brother, Max, claimed second place in his division.
Sharp said she would pay her parents back for the steer and for feed, and save the rest for college.
Challenging project
Although she gets up every morning at 6 and spends about four hours a day cleaning and feeding her steer, Sharp said the project of exhibiting the animal is a fun way to spend her summer and earn money to save.
Hanoverton resident Brent Bergman, who competed in the same weight class as Sharp and took first place, said exhibiting an animal has its ups and downs.
It can be challenging, especially for younger children, because the work is hard, and the thought of the cattle being slaughtered is gruesome, said Bergman, who admitted to being too attached to his first steer and crying when it was sold.
"But the check makes up for it," he said, noting that he expected to get about $1,000 for his steer.
Depending on the price per pound offered by a buyer, some steer likely would go for more than $1,000, Junior Fair board president Liz Zimmerman said.
The Junior Fair provides participants and board members with experiences similar to those of exhibitors in the Senior Fair, she said.
Some of the young exhibitors work hard enough to show multiple animals or kinds of animals at the fair.
Many of those dedicated workers picked up interest in exhibiting from older siblings or parents who previously had shown animals at fairs.
"Once you get started, you're pretty much in it," Zimmerman said.
Learning to lead
Zimmerman, 18, and her teenage co-workers on the Junior Fair board have received extra training in leadership and agriculture by aiding the Senior Fair board members in preparing for the fair.
Her board was in charge of trophies for their events, doing some painting and grounds maintenance work, having a member present at each event, organizing children's activities and helping the Senior Board with other preparation tasks.
"We're really learning the politics of the fair, how things work," Zimmerman said.
She said some board members also are getting valuable experience for the jobs they want to have in the future in the fields of agriculture and animal care.
Paul Lease, Senior Fair board president, said the Columbiana County fair wouldn't be the same without the Junior Fair or its board members.
"The Junior Fair is one of our most important things because that's what is going to continue the fair," he said.
He said he is proud of the Junior Board members and the ways they have learned leadership and responsibility.
Overall, Lease said he's been pleased with the numbers of people in attendance each day, which have shown increases from last year.
He said he expects the fair will continue to run smoothly and finish Sunday free of any major problems.

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