4-H alumni praise the Farm Fair

The "real farm fair," for Fallston resident Neil Covington, is not the rides and the games on the midway, nor the new attractions and events of this year's fair.

It is what has been a a key component of the Harford County Farm Fair for the past 30 years — the agricultural exhibitions and the animals raised and shown by the youth members of 4-H, according to Covington, a former 4-Her.

He took part in fair exhibitions when he was young.

"It's good memories, doing that kind of stuff, and now seeing what the kids are entering," he said Wednesday, the third night of the fair.

Covington has been attending the fair since he was a child. He came out Wednesday evening with his wife, Jamie. They strolled the Artisan's Village, checking out the wares of local vendors.

The fairgrounds at the Harford County Equestrian Center in Bel Air were crowded with people enjoying food, vendors, music, games, carnivals rides and the agricultural exhibitions.

"It's been kind of a family tradition for a long time and now it's a new family tradition, right?" Covington said to his wife.

They were married in October of 2016. Jamie Covington, who has been to the fair only one other year, noted she enjoyed all aspects of the fair, new and traditional.

"I think there's a lot more activities for families, and it still has a lot of the 4-H aspect to it," she said.

This year's fair, which has been extended from four days to six, has been chock full of 4-H events since it started Monday — mainly livestock exhibitions — and they continue through the end of the fair Saturday, culminating in the annual 4-H Livestock Auction, one of the most popular events of the fair.

It's not all about farm animals though, as some 4-Hers took part in a dog agility contest in the show ring.

The youths ran their dogs over small jumps and through tubes, holding their dog's leash — except when the canines were in the tubes.

Nathan Snyder, 18, of Felton, Pa., exhibited two dogs, a chocolate lab named Caution and a German shepherd mix named Mika. He picked up four second-place ribbons.

"They love coming here," Snyder said. "They love doing it; they love going to practices and such."

He said he has entered Caution in the agility contest for four years and Mika for two years.

"It's rushing, once you get out there and get in the mood," he said, describing the rush of being in the ring with the dogs.

His mother, Tracey Snyder, said the dog contest is "one of the nice things about 4-H," with its variety of activities for youth members.

"A lot of people have dogs in their house," she said.

She noted her son can be part of the Harford County 4-H, even though they live in Pennsylvania, since their home is closer to the Mason-Dixon Line than the York County 4-H Center.

That facility is just outside the City of York.

Nathan Snyder said he will also show pigs at the Harford County fair.

"We're here for the whole week," he said.

Kathy Hemmings, of Abingdon, and her daughters, Carly, 12, and Kelsey, 8, made their first visit to the fair Wednesday.

"We're having a good time," Hemmings said. "I'm glad it's not too hot."

Carly had been singing with her group, Chosen, and she and her sister and mother were preparing to check out the carnival rides.

"It was great," Carly said of her experience performing.

Kelsey was eager to get on the rides, such as the popular mechanical bull.

"I like the electric bull and the Double Shock," she said.

Hemmings said she was impressed with the fair.

"It's clean, it's nicely run, there's a nice group of people here," she said. "We're having a nice night."

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