Children, adults alike compete in Ag Olympics at Boone County Fair

Friday, July 30, 2010 | 6:50 p.m. CDT; updated 12:05 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 31, 2010
Glenn Garrett from team "Geisers" catches the "udder" during the Utter Toss at the Agriculture Olympics at the Boone County Fair on July 30. The "Geisers" were able to complete 33 tosses before the "udder" burst in Garrett's arms.

COLUMBIA — Silly farm games aren't just for kids.

At the Boone County Fair Ag Olympics on Friday, the Geisers (pronounced Geezers), a team of adults, took top honors after placing first in two of six agricultural-themed events.

Test your agricultural trivia

The following is a sample of questions from the trivia contest at the Ag Olympics. How much do you know?

1. Missouri ranks ____ in the nation in hay production.
a. 2nd
b. 5th
c. 10th
d. 12th

2. According to the 2007 census of agriculture, Missouri has approximately ____ farms.
a. 29,000
b. 51,000
c. 79,000
d. 107,000

3. According to the 2007 census of agriculture, the farm animal Missouri has the largest number of is:
a. Cattle
b. Pigs
c. Chickens
d. Turkeys

4. Shelly is shopping for goat feed. She checks three companies on prices. Each company will supply feed of the same quality for the prices listed below. Which is the least expensive company to buy from?
a. $14.00 per 50 pound bag
b. $600 per ton
c. $0.25 per pound

5. How many acres are there in a square field that is 1/4 mile long by 1/2 mile wide?

Look below for the correct answers.

Source: Trivia contest question sheet

Answers: 1-a, 2-d, 3-c, 4-c, 5-80 acres.

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The fourth annual Olympics, organized by the Boone County 4-H and Future Farmers of America, took place under a covered pavilion, with two rows of five hay bales acting as a stadium.

Events included a wooden plank race, agricultural trivia, sack race, sunflower seed spitting, feed bucket filling and an udder toss.

"It's open to everyone, all the youth at the fair," said coordinator Doug Roderick, adviser for the Ashland FFA. "Most of them are 4-H or FFA members though."

Over a bed of fresh wood shavings to mask the scent of cow manure and livestock, contestants took their places.

"Come on! You gotta want it!" shouted Scott Snow at his Geisers teammates during the plank race, the first game of the warm, humid afternoon. 

Two members of each team competed at once, placing two six-inch-wide by four-foot-long boards end to end to bridge the gap between the hay bales. Both contestants had to remain on the same board at all times, then pick up and move the second board to build a path forward to the opposite side, then back to the starting hay bale.

The Geisers excelled in their coordination, ushering all six members through the course with unparalleled precision. Completing the course in just 58 seconds, they were the only team to finish in under a minute.

"That was definitely our strongest event," Snow said.

Kassie Rankin, 13, said the plank race was her favorite event, despite her team placing last. Rankin’s team won the event last year. A 4-H member since she was 8, Rankin said she looks forward to the Olympics every year.

The contest that elicited the most falls, wipeouts and laughter from the crowd was the sack race.

"If you've never sack-raced before, it's a good idea to hold on to the sack," Roderick quipped after the first heat of teams experienced a slew of difficulties and spills. 

Technique improved in the second heat, but there was still a fair share of trips and muddied jeans. 

In a close call at the finish, Team Awesome pulled away with the win.

"We thought we had first but we didn't," said Keith Strawn, 39, of the Geisers.

For the seed spitting contest, every team had its own approach to shuck tiny sunflower seeds into a white farm bucket. Doug Chamber, a parent of two children on the Beavers team (named after Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber), whipped out a pocket vise grip tool to carefully crack sunflower seeds rather than the traditional method of chewing and spitting.

“They didn’t say it’s not allowed,” Chamber said. 

Team Awesome, made up of local high schoolers, used more brute force, taking handfuls of seeds and spitting them all out at once.

Team member Logan Fitch, 16, called the strategy “go big or go home.”

“If you’re not first, you’re last,” said Fitch, echoing a theme from the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

And first they were. Two minutes and 110 seeds later, Team Awesome was the champion.

The final event was the udder toss. Instead of real udders, contestants delicately tossed jiggly, water-filled latex gloves back and forth until they broke. The final team lasted 39 pitches. Distances increased every 10 tosses, so that teams were chucking their udders almost 60 feet by the end of the contest.

After all the udders popped, Roderick called an end to the games and announced the Geisers as the official winners for the second year in a row.

“Your prizes are in that cooler over there,” Roderick said, pointing to his SUV.

Popping open an ice-cold soda from the cooler, Janet Snow was thankful for her small reward.

“Cold and refreshing,” she said.

Roderick said he was pleased with the turnout for the Olympics.

“It was probably about the same number as last year,” he said. “It’d always be nice to have more kids, though.”

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Ellis Smith July 30, 2010 | 11:20 p.m.

Shouldn't the caption for this story read "Children ..."? "Children" is already a plural noun, so why add an "s"?

They probably make mistakes like that all the time at the journalism schools at Columbia University, Pennsylvania University, Northwestern University and University of Southern California.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 31, 2010 | 1:33 a.m.

Ellis, check out the utter fail in the photo caption as well. At least the article itself got it right!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 31, 2010 | 5:49 a.m.

Thanks for pointing that out, John. Don't know much about udders anyhow. As a big city boy I grew up believing the source of milk was bottles (cartons had yet to make the scene). Milk was delivered to your home, usually before dawn. In the winter when temperatures reached zero the milk would start to freeze and expand, and that would push up the bottle stoppers. We kids thought that was super cool.

(Report Comment)

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