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Raising the hoof

ELEANOR, W.Va. -- For some, the Putnam County Fair has been a whirlwind of activity this week, with hundreds of people riding carnival rides, competing in tractor pulls and watching trucks clash in the demolition derby.

While the nights of the fair can be hectic, the days are quiet. Gates are closed until 4 p.m.

That doesn't mean there isn't work to be done.

As part of the livestock competitions at the fair, hundreds of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits and other animals are shown and sold by members of area clubs throughout the week.

Millie Kimble, leader of the Trace Creek Bandits 4-H Club, is a professional rabbit breeder and has been in charge of the rabbit enclosure during the fair. According to Kimble, every child who raises rabbits as part of a project has spent months trying to breed and produce livestock ready for market.

"Steers are tagged in January, and everything else, except for rabbits and steers, are tagged in May, so they have to be ready by that time," she said. "They bring them in the first Friday of the month, and they have certain weight ranges -- the hogs have to fall between 200 and 285 pounds. Things like that."

Getting animals ready to show hasn't been the only struggle: Temperatures topped more than 90 degrees Tuesday, and many competitors spent the day trying to keep their animals cool.

Autumn Karnes, 11, and her sister Erin, 10, are completing their second year for their 4-H goat projects, and have raised their Boer goats, Maddie Magnifico and Savory Sugar, since January. Both goats were judged during the dairy and meat goat competitions Saturday but will remain on display at the fair for the rest of the week, so the sisters are responsible for caring for them.

"You have to walk them every day for half an hour," Erin said. "When it's your first year, you don't really know as much, but if you're a second year, you know what to do and know what happens."

Sydnee Adkins, 10, spent part of her Tuesday morning hosing down her prizewinning pig, Polka Dot. Adkins, who weighs 67 pounds, wrangles the 285-pound Blue Butt pig using only a stick to coax him in the right direction.

Polka Dot is Adkins' second fair pig, as well as the winner of the overall market hog competition.

"They judged them on how they looked, how well they filled out and how long they were -- how much it weighed and how it filled out, mostly," Adkins said.

The livestock competitions are sponsored through local 4-H clubs and the National FFA organization, and many of the animals are sold to local businesses and people. According to Kimble, many of the people who purchase animals during the fair return them to the youths who raised them.

Several competitions have already taken place, and Wednesday night at the fair will include the purebred beef, replacement heifer and feeder calf shows.

For more information on Putnam County 4-H Extension, visit http://putnam.ext.wvu.edu. For more information on the Putnam County Fair, including the event schedule, visit www.putnamcountyfairwv.com.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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