DARKE COUNTY — The Ohio Department of Agriculture has canceled all live poultry and waterfowl shows, exhibits, swaps and auctions due to the avian flu virus being spread by migratory birds. This became effective June 2.
It was recently announced that because of the ban, county youth will still be able to show their poultry and rewarded for it during the Great Darke County Fair, with a plan recently unveiled in an edition of The Daily Advocate.
So what are other county fairs going to do in lieu of conducting poultry shows at their festivals this year?
The Paulding County Fair ended June 13, and it was noted by Michael Schweinsberg, the 4-H youth development educator, all went well there.
“Cooper Farms put together a Poultry Jeopardy,” said Schweinsberg. “The competition was broken down into age divisions. It was held one day during our scheduled time for the poultry show. It worked out very well. The kids really enjoyed it and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.”
Schweinsberg also reported that the fair went “very well.”
“We had youth excited about showing all the livestock and projects they have,” he said. “They were very happy with everything and are excited about coming back next year.”
It was explained that Poultry Jeopardy was conducted with exhibitors dressed in show attire and sharing their knowledge about poultry.
The top two scores of each beginner, intermediate, and advanced were awarded Champion and Reserve Champion respectively of “Poultry Jeopardy.”
Although poultry has been banned, things as noted before will go on at the Great Darke County Fair.
Thomas Shaw, of Greenville, and a state FFA officer said, “I support the poultry decision. Our county thrives off the poultry industry. 4-Hers and FFA members may be disappointed but those projects are not always about showing. It’s about learning.”
Open exhibitors Eva Cusac-Seale and husband Bob were married in the poultry barn in Darke County last year and still plan to return this year.
“With the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s recent poultry show ban, that means all county fairs will not be having their usual poultry shows,” she said. “This means the 4-H and FFA showing poultry must come up with creative ways for the youth to ‘show’ their birds. All counties are having to think quickly to change the requirements since youth won’t be able to exhibit their birds during each county fair. This poultry show ban is going to have an effect all the way around on the kids, the fairs and the poultry biz in general, not to mention the future of the poultry business.”
She went, on, “Of course, Bob and I are bummed because we had hoped to celebrate our first anniversary at Darke County Fair in the poultry barn. Plus, we dislike missing out on showing there. However, we’ve decided to use our time off from all of our planned shows to work on improving our flock as well as making improvements to our facility. As far as Darke County Fair, we do plan to be there often. We’re looking forward to getting to visit more of the fair and watching other areas show their critters. With the friends we’ve made showing poultry there, we plan to watch some kids showing their other 4-H projects, like sheep and goats. I may be judging the 4-H cats again this year—I just haven’t been asked yet.”
Husband Bob said, “And, all the misinformation that is out there. There are people with poultry, who truly believe that this AI doesn’t affect them because it only affects ‘caged birds,’ not free range birds.
The Ohio State Fair website had this news release available:
“In conjunction with Ohio 4-H and FFA, the Ohio State Fair has announced its junior poultry exhibition plans for 2015, including the opportunity for all of Ohio’s junior poultry exhibitors to have the chance to participate in the Sale of Champions.
“To begin, junior poultry exhibitors will be able to highlight their poultry knowledge at the Ohio State Fair in two different ways:
• Avian Bowl (located off-site at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on July 25 at 8:30 a.m.); the deadline to enter at ohiostatefair.com is July 1
• Skillathon (Aug. 5, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; awards ceremony at 4 p.m.). Skillathon is open to all junior (4-H and FFA) market and breeding chicken, turkey and waterfowl exhibitors in Ohio
“In the absence of a traditional poultry show, all poultry skillathon premiums will be increased for 2015 only. The winner of each age group class will receive the following premiums: First -place winner, $225; second-place winner, $175; and third-place winner, $155
“For 2015 only, skillathon participants who register in advance will receive free admission for themselves and a parent or guardian, for a total of two free admission tickets. The deadline to register at ohiostatefair.com is July 13. Walk-in skillathon participants are welcome, but complimentary admission tickets will only be provided to those who register on or before July 13.
“The top winner in each age group will be invited to represent the poultry industry in the Sale of Champions on Aug. 9 at 2 p.m. In addition, each winner will receive a belt buckle and an additional $100 premium above and beyond their winning skillathon premium.
“In 2015, the poultry industry will be showcased in the Sale of Champions with one combined exhibit to represent all market and breeding chicken, turkey and waterfowl exhibitors (rather than selling the Grand Champion Market Chicken, Reserve Grand Champion Market Chicken and Grand Champion Market Turkey, which will not be in the 2015 sale.) This exhibit will be represented by the top youth skillathon winners in each age group for a total of 10 winners (age 9, age 10, age 11, age 12, age 13, age 14, age 15, age 16, age 17, age 18). These winners will receive a belt buckle and an additional $100 premium above and beyond their winning skillathon premium.
“Since the poultry industry is usually represented by market animals, this year’s change will allow youth exhibitors who may otherwise never have the chance to be a part of the Sale of Champions to compete for their chance in the spotlight. Specifically, breeding chickens, breeding turkeys and waterfowl have not previously been a part of the Sale of Champions. We are hopeful to return to the previous Sale of Champions format in 2016.
“All funds raised in the Sale of Champions will go directly to the Youth Reserve Program; there will be no cap. The buyer of the poultry exhibit will receive one fresh or frozen turkey and four fresh or frozen whole chickens courtesy of the Ohio Poultry Breeders Association.”