This year's Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair will offer several new events and 4-H club exhibitions for all ages, from a silent auction to cow pie bingo to the carriage show to robotics demonstrations and lost arts displays.
Some of the events are fundraisers to help pay for the purchase of animal pens for the growing number of livestock exhibitions.
This week's fair has so many animal exhibits that the schedule had to be revamped to get them all in, said Andy Cashman, livestock superintendent.
"We spent $91,000 for the pens, and we still don't have enough. We're borrowing and renting pens, and some people even bought some privately," said Nona Schwartzbeck, a fair committee member who suggested a silent auction to help raise money.
Earlier last week, Schwartzbeck counted 55 items for the auction, including four tickets to a Ravens game, five tickets to the Orioles clubhouse with a parking permit, Eddie Bauer folding chairs, two homemade quilts, livestock supplies, model trucks and tractors, a horse halter, a photo shot of an animal at your home, a lamb for the 2007 project year, a car boom box, silk floral arrangements and a girl's hand-painted bedroom set.
She expects more items to come in this week and hopes to raise several thousand dollars toward the cost of the pens. Auction items will be accepted all week, with the winning bids being announced Friday evening.
The fair is so crowded that another new fundraiser, cow pie bingo, is tentatively scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today, said Denise Ziegler, fair publicity chair. Space permitting, more cow pie bingos may be held this week.
"We've had to put some smaller rings up for the animals, and the larger ring won't be available," Ziegler said. The event will be in the Harrison ring at Shipley Arena. "It's huge, so there'll be lots of blocks," she said.
The ring will be laid out in a grid and tickets sold for $1 a block. The winner of a cash prize is determined by where the cow leaves her mark.
The new AgStravaganza Tent will teach children about agriculture.
Organized by the Carroll County Young Farmers, the tent will feature 10 stations where children can do hands-on activities that teach them about farm life.
"It's a few different things - grain bins where kids play with tractors and toys, milk-the-cow and feed-the-pig stations, steer roping, stick horse riding," said Brooks Bachtel, chairman for the AgStravaganza Tent. "We've produced and put together some good information and educational signs with each station, like a beef cattle poster that describes the difference between a cow, heifer and steer."
The AgStravaganza Tent will be open all week below the Shipley Arena.
The carriage show, which has been on hiatus for several years, is back by popular demand, said Mary Ellen Arbaugh, fair secretary. It will be held at 10 a.m. today, with 10 categories ranging from draft horse cart and antique carriage/cart to antique implement and farm and show teams.
Another new event today will be Middle-earth Studios storytelling and creative dramatics programs, scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the activity tent, then again at 7:30 p.m. on the Finch stage with a campfire, and a final session afterward.
"They're pretty cool," said Jennifer Schultz, fair manager. "They bring the audience up; they have costumes for them; they dress them up and guide them in telling the story."
The 4-H members also have some new activities for this year's fair. A club that started last month, Sparks 4-H Club, focuses on robotic technology. While too new to be in competition, club members worked quickly to build some small robots and create a game they will demonstrate at 3 p.m. Wednesday, 5 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday.
"We came up with a small game on a 4-foot by 8-foot table with two teams at a time, and they [the robots] have to move balls from one end of table to the other to the goal area, and they get points," said David Frank, club leader.
The four teams that will demonstrate the game will be rewarded for their designs and achievements, as well as their team-working skills, Frank said.
A new horse drill team will show its expertise in handling the animals at 6 p.m. Thursday.
"Basically it's an equestrian exhibit based on routines they follow," Ziegler said. "Instead of synchronized swimming, it's with horses."
Other new 4-H exhibits include:
Lost Arts: Youths have learned the arts of broom making, blacksmithing, chair weaving, tapestry, quilting and more from the 1700s Georgian period to the 1800s Victorian and early 1900s Edwardian eras.
Mechanical Arts: Youths made mechanical items in powered, nonpowered, antique, residential, fabricated and modified categories.
Trams will be available to take fair-goers around to the different sites, Ziegler said.