It’s almost August, so the members of the Fritz family of Good Friday Farm in Westminster are taking their heifers on longer walks and getting ready to clip, clean and bathe them in preparation for the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair.
Emily and Ella Fritz are showing their heifers, Rodeo and Jigsaw, on Aug. 1. The sisters have never had to compete against each other, being in different age groups. Ella first joined when she was 9, and it was nice to have her older sister to help teach her how to show.
Emily, 13, said working with the heifers from a young age, feeding them every morning and night, is a lot of responsibility. For Ella, 10, the most fun part of taking care of them is walking them.
“But I don’t like making her feet clean because she tries to kick me,” she said of Jigsaw.
For their parents, it will be a quieter year, with less categories of the indoor craft exhibits, a scaled-down version of the fair in deference to the coronavirus pandemic. When they load up the supplies to bring the cows to the Carroll County Agriculture Center, it will just be for one day.
The family will miss the fun of hanging out all week and reconnecting with other families, their mom, Diana, said. Their dad, Jeff, is glad the fair is still going forward in a modified way, because that’s not the case everywhere. Having a chance for the kids to have their hard work recognized is important, he said.
Judging started Saturday, July 25 for rockets, the first event on the fair schedule. The annual dog show is set for Sunday. The fair starts in earnest on Saturday, Aug. 1, and runs through Aug. 7 at the Ag Center.
To cut down the number of people in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the fair is closed to the public this year. The fair executive board deliberated for a long time before settling on a solution they hoped would give the kids a chance to showcase their projects while keeping safety in mind.
While the judging and many of the exhibits will go ahead, as they have in some form since 1897, the entertainment and food will not be a part of the occasion this year. A typical fair draws 50,000 people per week to the Ag Center grounds, said Jim Weishaar, chair of the fair board.
The livestock sale, set for Friday, Aug. 7 at 5:30 p.m., will be the only part of the fair that’s open to the public, in a modified way. Some buyers will be able to preregister to attend in person and others can do so virtually. The income from this sale is vital for many exhibitors to offset the cost of feed and supplies and hopefully go toward next year’s project.
This is the first year the sale will be streamed live online. Weishaar said that if all goes well, that might become a permanent part of the event. Some families have said it will let family members from far away participate.
The fair board had considered live-streaming the livestock shows throughout the week, but found that hiring a company to do so would have been to expensive during a year when the fair is bringing in very little revenue, Weishaar said.
The annual cake auction was one of the events that won’t go forward this year. Some of the groups who pool their resources to make larger donations to the fair in the form of cake auctions bids have reached out and asked how they can support the fair. Donations can be made by the fair staff at email@example.com or by calling 410-848-3247.
“I‘m just gonna keep going,” Emily said. “I already have a calf on the ground. That might be mine, if we don’t have another one. So as soon as she gets big enough, we’ll start walking with her and getting ready.”