Rounding up honors at the fair

Two show pigs scuffled. Children petted cattle with European and Asian pedigrees. And an 11-year-old, dark bay thoroughbred lived up to her name.

With Better Than Ever, Jessica Ganske won her final grand champion prize in the English fitting and showing division yesterday at the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair in Westminster.


"She's definitely into blue ribbons," Ganske, who at 18 has reached the end of her 4-H years, said of her horse. "This is our fourth year together, and she's won fitting and showing every year for me."

Also among the activities yesterday were competitions for rabbits, cattle and goats. It was the first time that all of the fair's livestock was housed together, in the new $5.5 million Danele Shipley Arena.


The youngsters and the 4-H youth staff were thrilled.

"I think the kids are enjoying it," said Kate Bennett, who is in charge of the meat goat division competition. "They're so excited about being here. Not everything is in yet, and there are some bugs to work out, but we're making it work."

Cows and sheep were shown at the same time yesterday in small, adjacent corrals.

"It brings so many things together and exposes the kids to more," Janie Dell said, who is in charge of the crafts division. "Now they can look down and see something and say, 'What's going on down there?' and go check it out. They can learn more about different things."

Danele Shipley Arena is named for a teacher who was devoted to 4-H.

In the works for about five years, the 52,500-square-foot, green-and-white building was paid for with a combination of state and county money, as well as a donation from the Shipley family.

It features a large open area ringed by offices, bathrooms and a kitchen.

Pens were set up for the various animals, and a row of picnic tables were lined up on the kitchen side of the arena.


Colby Bertnick, 13, of Manchester was tending the three pigs he had brought for Wednesday's swine show.

He liked the bigger show arena, new wash racks and wider aisles for animals.

Two rows over, a fight had broken out between two pigs, who reared up nosing each other roughly and squealing angrily.

In the show arena, some of the short-legged cows had to be encouraged to walk and stand properly with swats to the nose and hooked poles.

Avery Graves, 11, of Taylorsville, who is showing in the beef cattle competition, said animals accustomed to being in pens seemed to take to the indoor arena.

"There's more room, more going on. It's a lot different," he said. "It's good."


Outside Shipley Arena, in the horse ring, Ganske claimed her ribbon with Better Than Ever. As the Westminster teen left the ring, she stopped to help her cousin, Emily Clas, prepare for her riding division.

Emily, 8, rode a pony that Ganske had ridden in the competition years ago, Ganske said.

Later, during the horsemanship division, another young rider lost control of her horse and screamed in panic as the horse ran around the ring uncontrolled. The little girl finally jumped off the horse, unhurt.

"These are kids who don't own their horse but lease it, and they're frequently very beginner riders," said Cheryl Drzewianowski, secretary for the horse show.

Besides the show animals, the fair also offers a petting zoo with cows, calves and goats, including some breeds probably unfamiliar to most people, such as a zebu, a variety of Asian cattle; a Scottish Highlander cow, a golden brown shaggy cow; a huge, but gentle-faced Brahman cow; and a water buffalo from India.

Other buildings house 4-H exhibits of flowers, crafts, club displays, food, vegetables, photographs and clothing.


The fair continues through Friday at the Carroll County Agriculture Center.