The 2016 Harford County Farm Fair was all about the children when it kicked off Thursday morning, as the youngsters played games, sampled fair food and showed their livestock.
4-H campers and their counselors, dressed in different shades of yellow T-shirts, eagerly took in the Kidway, a slew of games and activities, including a moon bounce and battling with padded sticks.
Families who are not affiliated with 4-H also took in the fair. Zack Bryant, of Bel Air, watched his son and nephew check out a riding mower while his wife pushed their daughter in a stroller.
"The farm animals are great for the little ones, the games, animals, the tractors, the rides," Bryant said.
He and his family visited the fair for the second consecutive year. The fair is held at the Harford County Equestrian Center off Tollgate Road near Bel Air, and Bryant noted that facility provides a lot of space for children to run around.
"It's very spread out," he said. "Even if it's crowded, it doesn't feel like it."
The 29th Harford Farm Fair continues through Sunday evening. Visit http://www.farmfair.org for more information.
Youths in local 4-H clubs could be seen showing cows late Thursday morning. Much of the livestock shown during the opening days of the fair will go on to the annual 4-H livestock auction Saturday evening.
Cade Griffith, of 13, of Delta, Pa., watched as other youths displayed their cows. He had shown a black Angus steer in an earlier showmanship competition.
Cade is a member of the Harford County Stockyards 4-H club and has been showing cows and pigs at the Harford fair since age 10.
"It's fun, you get to meet a lot of new people and hang out with a lot of friends," Cade said.
Livestock started coming in to the fairgrounds as early Monday night. Paige Mullhausen, of Pylesville, whose 11-year-old daughter, Kaley, is showing pigs and rabbits, said families have been staying at the fair overnight, creating makeshift sleeping spaces in the animal barns, so the 4-H kids can tend to their cows, pigs and other show animals.
"It's just good experience for the kids," Mullhausen said. "It keeps them close with the animals."