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GUEST COLUMN: A complete fair experience

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

A day at the state fair may include cotton candy, carnival rides, concerts and corn dogs, but if your day does not include a trip to the livestock barns, you have not experienced a complete day at the Missouri State Fair.

In the various barns on the grounds there are a lot of champion-grade livestock to see, but the real attractions are the 4-H and FFA exhibitors. They are the ones who care for the livestock.

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For young livestock exhibitors, the Missouri State Fair symbolizes the end of summer, a time to greet old friends and make new ones and the chance to showcase their animals for a blue ribbon and a spot in the Sale of Champions.

4-H and FFA exhibitors take pride in working hard to raise good quality livestock to exhibit at the fair. As young producers, we are knowledgeable about food production and practice good animal care, which we learned firsthand. Visiting the livestock barns provides a perfect opportunity to meet young producers and ask them questions.

I grew up on a small family farm where we have a farrow-to-finish swine operation. We raise Hampshire and Crossbred pigs to show at county, state and national levels. I spend time with my pigs from birth to the show ring. I know everything about them including their current weight, birthday, the sire and dam and behavioral patterns. I have a deep passion for my animals and exhibiting is something I look forward to every year. This is my 10th year exhibiting at the Missouri State Fair.

It takes hard work and patience. I need to walk my pigs so they understand what to do in the show ring, and they get haircuts and baths to look their best for the show. I keep the proper feed on hand, provide adequate water and strive to keep my animals comfortable and happy. The work is never-ending and, at the Missouri State Fair, I spend most of my day in the swine pavilion.

I encourage everyone to visit the Missouri State Fair livestock barns. This is the perfect time to ask exhibitors how they care for their animals. I guarantee you will meet producers with the same passions that I hold who strive to provide the best care possible for their animals.

Carah Hart is an MU student and a summer intern for the Missouri Farm Bureau.


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