The birds are back after hundreds of Clark County fair participants were left out of showing their poultry last year because of a ban sparked by fears of avian flu.
More than 150 youth will present 4-H poultry projects including chickens, ducks and turkeys throughout the week at the Clark County Fair when the gates open today. The fair runs through July 29.
Last year 4-H-ers were told they wouldn’t be able to show their poultry projects because of a deadly avian flu in Ohio and across the country. Millions of birds died and many local 4-Hers had already purchased some of their birds.
This is the last year 19-year-old Trevor Hoberty can participate in the fair. He’s done a poultry project since he was 10.
“I’m really excited that (poultry is) finally back — it would have been really disappointing if it were my last year and they wouldn’t have been here … It’s so much fun to finally see your hard work kind of come together and it’s really fun to show and to look at the other 4-H-ers projects,” he said.
More than 2,000 4-H and FFA students will participate in the Clark County Fair this year, Clark County OSU Extension 4-H Educator Patty House said.
Other animals including rabbits, pigs, horses, sheep, dogs and cows will be shown at the fair.
4-H is an important part of Clark County history, Clark County Fair Executive Director Dean Blair said, because the organization started here.
Blair hopes all fairgoers, and not just children and families who have animals, will visit the animals barns this year.
“Visit the kids, visit the animals, engage in conversation with them,” Blair said.
Children involved in 4-H programs take great pride in their projects, House said.
Poultry projects are attractive to many families, she said, because it often costs less than $50 to raise the animals.
“Kids invest $2 in a chick, or $4 in a duck or $6 in a turkey and then they bring it to the Clark County Fair to show and enter it in the auction, where they could get hundreds of dollars back,” she said.
Although they were disappointed last year, House said many of the 4-H students understood the need to stop the spread of the bird flu and protect other birds.
Last year youth created displays in their empty poultry cages and were judged on those pieces, plus a mock showing of how they would have presented their birds.
Now participants will again show their ducks, chickens and turkeys in front of a judge, who examines the birds’ build and participants’ showmanship to pick winners and grand champions, Hoberty said.
The 4-H children also sell their animals to bidders, he said, and winning birds often get higher bids.
“That will go toward college,” said Hoberty, who’s saving up money as he begins his freshman year at Wittenberg University in the fall.
Mike Hoberty, Trevor Hoberty’s father, said he has seen his son grow up in 4-H over the years.
“It teaches them responsibility,” he said.
4-H is not only about the fair, House said, but taking care of the animals teaches youth responsibility and time-management.
“It instills the skills that are important for children to be successful into the future,” she said.
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