Six-year-old Raygen Feeser-Favorite and her grandmother Linda Favorite have a yearly tradition at the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair. They go through the poultry barn and count all of the eggs in their different shapes, sizes and colors.
But Tuesday morning, Raygen was wearing her boots and had one thing on her mind: pony rides. After trying it in years past at the fair, she was excited to do it again, she said.
Tuesday was children’s day at the fair, where thousands of children came to the vendor area to take part in crafts, games and bubble-blowing. Big crowds gathered for the pig races throughout the day, and comedian and musician Ray Owen hosted his “chicken karaoke” in the activity tent.
Five-year-old Scarlett Steiner, of Westminster, was excited to say that she had pet a unicorn at the Stars and Stripes Petting Corral, though her mother pointed out that it may have been one of the two miniature ponies.
At the Rabbit and Cavy Breeders 4-H Club tent, she also got to pet four bunnies in her third day at the fair so far this year, she said.
Colby Seymour, 10, of Reisterstown, spent the morning at the club’s table teaching others about the rabbits, including a group of baby Polish bunnies that were a crowd favorite.
Earlier in the day, someone asked if there was a difference between bunnies and rabbits. There isn’t, he said.
Over at the petting corral, a line of kids got familiar with a variety of animals from the New Windsor-based Stars and Stripes Farm, including two miniature ponies, rabbits, geese and calves.
Angie Derr said she started raising animals because she loves them and has been able to pass that love on to her children. A friend encouraged her to reach out to the fair board a few years ago about bringing the petting zoo. It gives kids a place to interact with animals without messing up the hard work that fair participants put into grooming their show animals, she said.
She hoped that kids who haven’t had much experience around farms would get a chance to pet the animals and learn a little about them.
“There’s such a barrier between agriculture and the general public,” she said.
Ten or 15 of the individual clubs put together booths with crafts for younger kids throughout the vendor area.
Claire Newman, 13, of the Deer Park 4-H Club, who is a 4-H ambassador, helped plan her club’s activity.
Kids affixed wings to egg carton cups to make their own bumblebees. “What’s the buzz about 4-H?” a handmade sign read.
When she encourages younger kids to join 4-H, Newman tells them, “It’s a good experience to learn about public speaking, and how to feel comfortable around people and express who you are.”
“4-H is a club where you can learn all sorts of things … and make new friends,” said her club member and fellow ambassador Emma Castonguay, 12.
Karey Howes, the volunteer who took the lead to coordinate children’s day activities said about 11,000 guests came out last year.
With uncertain weather Tuesday morning, there was a last-minute change in location, and it was truly a test of this year’s motto, “Keep Calm and Fair On,” she said. Even volunteers who weren’t signed up to be part of Children’s Day helped them relocate to the vendor area.
“There were so many volunteers that helped,” she said. “It’s really what 4-H is all about. It’s such a nice community.”
Wild West Night
Wild West Night started at 6:30 in the Buck Miller Arena with mutton busting, a rodeo activity for small children where they tried to stay on for at least six seconds after the mutton came busting out of the gate. Bull-rider John Paul Harrison judged the more than 20 young riders.
Other events included barrel racing and the rescue races, where horseback riders raced to see who could ride up to a rescuee standing on a barrel and get them on the back of their horse to race to the finish the fastest.
First-timer Ridgely Turner, 5, of Mount Airy, said the ride was “scary” but also fun.
McKenna Henley, 5, was more excited, even though she fell off. Her dad is a bull-rider. She likes horse riding, and she said he always tells her if she wants to get on a horse, she’s going to have to be able to hold on to it.
Amarien Warfield, of Westminster, was able to qualify after staying on the full six seconds.
“I was nervous and not at the same time,” he said of the moments just before they opened the gate. The event went “really fast.”
Savannah Wrobleski, 8, of Hampstead, has been a mutton busting participant for four years and was sad that this would be her last time. Right before her sheep went out of the gate, she said she was nervous because she didn’t know if she would get hurt.
“You have to put your feet underneath and squeeze,” she said.
Mutton busting wasn’t the only rodeo event she enjoys. Earlier that day, she stayed on the fair’s mechanical bull for 35.5 seconds — “better than some adults,” she said.