When Elizabeth Zinser, 30, of White Hall, first joined the 4-H club at 8 years old, her family only had a few dogs as pets. But that quickly changed.
The Zinser family had recently packed up and moved to Pylesville from Baltimore County and Zinser's mother, Rosemary Amos, wanted her daughters to become involved with the club.
"I thought it was a well–rounded thing for kids to do," Amos, 59, of Delta, Pa., said. "She was in the second grade when we moved to Harford County, and I wanted to get [she and her sister] involved with something like that, with animals and agriculture."
Zinser hasn't strayed very far from her days at the Farm Fair. A Harford County sheriff's deputy assigned to the southern precinct, Zinser will be part of a security team at this year's fair.
Zinser and her sister, Amber Coady, 32, of Tallahassee, Fla., joined a beginners group in 4-H and started out small with a couple of lambs, and began showing them at the annual Farm Fair.
"That's what they started out with, showing sheep," Amos said of her daughters' early fair experience. Adding to the growing brood of animals, Amos soon after added Pygmy and dairy goats to the family. Then a couple rabbits. Eventually, the family also brought a couplehorses to their 3 ½-acre farm in Pylesville, though Zinser and her sister didn't show them at the fair.
"We loved it. It was fun," Zinser remembers of her 4-H days. "I really enjoyed showing my goats." She and her sister showed animals with the club until they were "17 or 18 years old," Amos said, adding that being part of 4-H has taught her daughters good values.
One year, Zinser's Pygmy goat Imagine, named after the John Lennon song, won the grand champion award. She also won the showmanship award "quite a bit" at the fair.
Awards aside, it was the people and the experiences that kept Zinser showing at the fair year after year. "[I enjoyed] the people you would get to meet, the different farmers and 4-Hers. And we got to spend the night [there] to watch the animals," Zinser says of her fondest memories at the fair.
But animals aren't the only things Zinser would show. Also interested in art, Zinser, who is working toward a bachelor's degree in art education at Towson University, would also exhibit her drawings and photography.
Zinser, who has been with the force since 2006, will be policing at this year's Farm Fair each day from open to close, as well as talking to the community. "It's easier to talk to a police officer in a location like that [rather] than at their home," Zinser said about building a rapport with fair-goers.
Even when she's not on duty, Zinser still attends the fair every year, looking forward to seeing the horses and watching the pig races. "I've been to the Farm Fair probably every year since I [began showing animals]," she said.
While goats, sheep and other farm animals are no longer part of Zinser's everyday life, she does still have one special furry friend in her life: Rudy, a rescued boxer.