Dozens of fair-goers walked through the gates of the 71st annual Howard County Fair within an hour of the 9 a.m. opening. Inside, local farmers prepared their produce and cheeses for sale and vendors put finishing touches on their booth canopies displaying clothing, jewelry and home décor.
The midway rides wouldn't open till noon, though children excitedly waited to be first in line for their favorite attractions, including bumper cars, swings, the merry-go-round and Ferris wheel.
4-H'ers readied their entries. Inside one of the many stables, Woodbine resident Kathleen Spicer and 9-year-old daughter, Kortney, who live at Shady Oaks Farm in Woodbine, prepared feed for their cattle, which they will show later in the week, they said.
"I'm going to show livestock, like cattle, sheep, goats and pigs. I also made cakes and crafts," Kortney said. "I like getting to know new people and I look forward to showing, feeding and learning about the animals. I like spending time with my animals."
Kathleen Spicer said she and her husband have continued the 4-H tradition in the family with their children having shown cattle themselves throughout the '90s.
"It's a lot of the same families," Spicer said. "Even though the area is growing, we still see a lot of the same people. A lot of the people we knew who showed, now our kids show together. We like it."
Mother and daughter Joanne and Grace Rasch, of Glenwood, agreed, saying they enjoy the small Howard County Fair community. Former residents of Montgomery County, they said the unity of the Howard County Fair makes 4-H participation much simpler as opposed to the family's experience at the Montgomery County Fair in past years.
"In Glenwood, it's more rural," said Joanne Rasch, a former resident of Montgomery County. "We come to this fair every year. [4-H] gives the kids something to focus on in the summer. They enter baked goods, crafts and art. We do that now and then we get to come back and see how they did."
Grace Rasch, 9, in addition to her 4-H participation, said she enjoys volunteering at the fair's Critter Barn petting zoo.
"I like doing the petting zoo and holding the animals for people," Grace said.
Fairgrounds president Mickey Day said on Saturday the Howard County Fair is off to an excellent start.
"Things are going well," Day said. "We hope for good weather. We might have a chance of storms this afternoon, but early afternoon, and then a great next couple of days. Everybody's getting their stuff together."