A chicken sits in its cage back stage at the Auction of Champions event at the Clark County Fair. Chickens from the Clark County Fair are not allowed to compete in the Ohio State Fair after one chicken tested positive for herpes virus. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County Fair closes with big auction, chicken scare

The Clark County Fair came to a close Friday with a giant auction, goodbyes from kids to their animals and unfortunate news for poultry exhibitors.

“It’s been outstanding,” Clark County Fair Executive Director Dean Blair said. “It’s been a really good fair.”

He said he didn’t know what the final attendance of the fair was yet and said rains on the first few days kept some from coming, but overall he was happy with the event.

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“Thursday we posted a number that was double one year ago so that’s outstanding,” Blair said. “It’s really good and really problem free and most of all I think there have been thousands of great memories made and that’s what fairs are really about.”

Friday was a busy day for this year’s grand champions as the kids were allowed to auction off their animals and many made a nice profit.

Garrett Agle, whose steer was named reserve grand champion of market beef overall, said the fair was a culmination of a lot of hard work.

“We get them in November,” he said. “We put them in an air-conditioned room and work their hair every day and wash them every day.”

He was set to sell his animal during the auction and said he plans on saving the money.

»RELATED: Four top hogs at Clark County Fair came from same breeder

It was the second year in a row the fair auctioned off all grand champions on one day. Previously, the fair held auctions over a three-day period. Blair said with it all happening on a single day, the buyers are able to see every champion which is good for both them and the kids.

The fair did not close without some issues. A chicken at the fair died suddenly of a herpes virus.

“It’s a herpes virus, highly contagious,” said Clark County Fair Veterinarian Dana King, who confirmed the diagnosis Friday morning.

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King said the fair was contacted Wednesday night after a chicken suddenly died, and after testing with the Ohio Department of Agriculture, it was determined the death was a result of the virus.

The birds who were brought to the county fair are now being quarantined for 30 days, which will prevent any of the birds from attending the state fair in Columbus.

“The exhibitors going on to the state fair are going to be denied that opportunity, which we feel very sorry about,” King said.

King said the virus usually has a low mortality rate, however, they are contacting everyone who had an animal on exhibit at the fair.

“We’re going to have to inform every exhibitor unfortunately that we had a contagious disease here,” he said. “Fortunately, it’s only in chickens and pheasants.”

Blair said it is sometimes impossible to prevent animals from getting sick, but his team works hard to take a proactive step to stop the spread of disease.

“I am so proud of the proactive approach that we take,” Blair said. “We perceive ourselves as a leader in the state. We have an outstanding fair event and these are proactive measures that we take.”

He said transparency is important.

“We don’t cover anything up,” Blair said. “We try to research these things. This is something that we want to be so proactive to protect other fairs and protect the state fair.”

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