Barnyard, aquarium draw families to fair

Miss Boone County Fair Contest crowned 19-year-old Jessica Wilson its queen.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:29 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sticking her head through the fence, Millie the goat seemed poised to amuse her onlookers as she stepped in her water and tried to climb the fence. She splashed in front of her audience, causing giggles to erupt from the children who were watching her intently.

“She is definitely the most outgoing animal,” said volunteer Joanne Beavers, an office support assistant with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. “We give water to them and then five seconds later it’s gone because they’re bathing or playing in it.”

The Children’s Barnyard was just one of the attractions Monday at the opening of the 2004 Boone County Fair. The small animal tent hosted Family Fun Night, during which families participated in events such as a water balloon toss and three-legged races. A Bucket Calf Show, followed by the Open Breeding Cattle Show, as well as a Farm Team Horse Pull and Draft Horse Pull, gave area animal enthusiasts a chance to display their hard work Monday evening. The carnival began at 6 p.m.

Fair-goers were also drawn to something new this year: the 3,200 gallon Show-Me Missouri Fish Mobile Aquarium. Vicki Russell, president of the fair board of directors, said they’ve been trying to have the aquarium visit the fair for three years. It is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and contains bullfrogs, five varieties of turtles and about 20 different species of fish.

“It’s part of an outreach and education program,” said Gregory Rublaitus, a Department of Conservation fisheries resource aide. “Wherever we go, people are drawn to it. It opens people up to what we’re doing.”

At the end of the evening, Jessica Wilson, 19, of Columbia was crowned the winner of the Miss Boone County Fair Contest. She will receive a $1,000 scholarship to the school of her choice. Wilson will attend all the fair’s events with the first and second runners-up, and she has the option of representing Boone County in the Miss Missouri State Fair Contest next month in Sedalia.

“It was a very good group of girls,” said Leigh Nutter, Fair Board Treasurer and member of the queen committee. “(Wilson) has been in the pageant before, so the experience and maturity helped her out. She also won the speech and talent portion of the contest.”

In addition to the traditional events, Russell said she is excited about an event on Friday that is not listed in the fair schedule.

The fair will host a Stump Speaking at 7 p.m. Friday in front of the multipurpose building.

Any candidates can get up and speak to the public, and Russell added that political campaigning is an important part of the annual fair.

“It’s a tradition,” Russell said. “It gets lots of people coming and talking to the candidates.”

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