Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Civitas Media
Judge Gary Overton asks Sophia Pohorence of the Firelands Future Farmers of America chapter a few questions about turkeys.
Taxidermy birds are a huge success in replacing live fowl projects this year at the Lorain County Fair.
The avian flu has been devastating in Midwestern states, taking a terrible toll on farm communities. The spread of the disease led to an Ohio-wide ban this year on all fair bird exhibits, including here in Lorain County.
“Our farmers and state leaders are working tirelessly to protect our flocks and keep avian influenza out of our state while maintaining a supply of safe, wholesome and affordable eggs, chicken and turkey,” says an Ohio Poultry Association poster inside the fair’s fowl barn.
The Junior Fair board decided in June to still have showmanship and type judging (by breed).
Not every 4-H member decided to take part Monday in the LCF showmanship event but judges Bill Karcher and Gary Overton were impressed with the exhibitors’ knowledge of their projects.
Overton said he was happy to see the Lorain County Fair used taxidermied fowl instead of stuffed because they are the closest possible facsimile and feature many of the details a live bird would have.
“It’s not a huge injustice not having the live bird because showmanship is 80 percent knowledge and 20 percent is controlling your animal,” he said. “I don’t think we really missed the animal that much in showmanship.”
Karcher and Overton were able to ask exhibitors more questions this year about their projects because there was not a live bird or as many showmen.
The judges asked 4-H’ers about how long it takes a duck egg to hatch, the difference between a female and male duck, body parts of the bird, and diseases.
“The more you know the better you’ll do in showmanship,” Overton said. “Our main purpose is for education. We really love doing this.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.