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Cows of all breeds, shapes and sizes paraded around the livestock facility within the Shelby County Fairgrounds on Thursday, officially marking the beginning of the Shelby County Fair.
The district dairy show, beginning at 9 a.m. and lasting for much of the day, saw more than 140 heads of cattle pass through the barn doors. Girls and boys from all across the state and 20 from Shelby County competed. The show is conducted by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and staffed and supported by the Shelby County Cooperative Extension office.
Rain from a brief but intense thunderstorm pounded on the roof of the barn in the morning, and staff shut the barn doors to prevent the rain from making its way inside. The cows remained relatively calm despite the cracks of thunders and pelting rain, which poured down at a frantic pace for close to 10 minutes.
Needless to say, the new addition of manure receptacles within the barn rather than dumping the waste outside behind the building – an addition applauded earlier this week by organizers – proved an effective and efficient method for cleaning up after the animals.
The rain did little to derail the other big attraction on opening day – the Shelby County A&M Truck and Tractor pull. Fair officials quickly repaired the muddy track after the morning rainstorm.
Of all the cattle shown during the dairy show the Holstein, with its iconic white-and-black color scheme, proved to be one of the most popular.
“They’re like dogs; different people like different breeds,” said Regina Browning, county extension agent for 4-H youth development, referring to the breed’s popularity.
Judy White, the Shelby County agriculture and investment program administrator as well as the leader of the Shelby County Dairy Club, said many of the kids participating in the show don’t come from farm backgrounds.
“You would think a lot of our students are from dairy farms, but most of the kids aren’t,” White said.
The dairy club teaches students about raising and showing dairy cows.
“It [dairy club] really keeps them motivated and connected to agriculture and learning about where their food comes from,” White said.
Friday will see the open dairy show in which anybody can participate, followed by the youth dairy show open only to Shelby County residents on Saturday.
Observant fair anticipators may have noticed a big change in this weekend’s fair schedule when compared to years past – there will be no events on Sunday, June 16.
Ray Tucker, president of the A&M Association, the entity that puts on the fair, said that was intentional.
“It’s Fathers Day, and we just made a conscious decision as a board not to have anything going on Sunday,” Tucker said.