Cows and kids, ice cream and iced tea, competition and camaraderie -- all are part of the 95th annual Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair that opens today.
Admission to the fair, which runs through Friday at the Agriculture Center in Westminster, is free.
New on the fairgrounds this year is a yellow building made of cinder blocks that will house an information booth, restrooms and offices.
"It is a very much needed expansion," said Calvin Brothers, past Fair Board chairman. "We were in desperate need of bathrooms."
About eight stalls will be available in the men's and women's restrooms, about double what was available in past years. The facilities are accessible to the handicapped, he said.
The new building -- adjacent to the red Medford exhibit building -- measures 45 feet by 70 feet and cost between $150,000 and $160,000, Mr. Brothers said.
Construction began in late March, he said.
The building will help alleviate crowding in the exhibit buildings and provide convenient office space for fair workers, Mr. Brothers said.
"It will be the most visible change anybody will see at the fair," 4-H Extension Service Agent Robert M. Shirley said.
Last year, an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 people came to the fair. Attendance could be higher this year because it's free entertainment in what has been for many families, a tough year financially, he said.
"Attendance has grown gradually over the years," Mr. Shirley said.
This week, 635 4-H'ers and FFA members will exhibit more than 10,000 projects they have worked on during the year. About $23,000 in premiums will be given away.
About 400 volunteers will be working during the week to keep activities running smoothly.
A parade kicks off the fair at 6 tonight, followed by the county farm queen contest at 7:30.
Four young women are competing for the title and the chance to win a $2,000 scholarship in the statewide competition at the Maryland State Fair next month.
The contestants are:
* Beth Bonde, 16, of Mount Airy.
* Melissa Ann Harrison, 17, of Woodbine.
* Rachel Harrison, 19, of Woodbine.
* Heather Hull, 17, of Westminster.
Other highlights of the week include the cake auction at 7 p.m. Wednesday and the livestock auction at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year, a plate of raspberry bar cookies, baked by Shelley Yingling of the Deep Run 4-H Club, brought the high bid at the cake auction.
Jim Uhler of Uhler Equipment Sales in Finksburg purchased the cookies, which won the grand champion baked item award, for $1,900.
A total of 148 items were sold at the auction, which raised $16,380 for the fair.
The livestock auction raised $102,556.75 last year. The proceeds go to 4-H'ers and FFA members who raised the animals. About 130 animals were auctioned.
The grand champion steer, raised by Monica Feeser of Taneytown, brought a high bid of $6.25 a pound from Giant Food. The steer weighed 1,225 pounds, so brought in $7,656.25.
For information about the fair, call 848-4611.