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File photos Wyatt Kocach of New London holds a chicken in the open barn.

Rebeca Rose holds her chicken “Dinner.”

Contestants in the waterfowl judging hold thier ducks and geese in the ring.

There may not be any birds this year at the Lorain County Fair but the barns will not be empty.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture announced earlier this month that all live bird exhibitions are banned from the fairs and the gathering of birds for show or sale.

Members of the junior and senior boards and the Ohio State University Extension Office met Tuesday to discuss options for the Lorain County Fair 4-H members all over our coverage areas who planned to show fowl projects.

Junior Fair coordinator Sherry Nickels said the members suggested holding events and education on the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza — the Asian bird flu — in the barns.

“We want to encourage the 4-H and FFA members to have that experience with those fowl projects,” Nickels said.

The bird flu is spread by migrating birds and affects domestic poultry.

The states surrounding Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan have cancelled all shows for this year.

Indiana is the only neighboring state where the bird flu has been detected so far.

Fair board members do not want to take away from 4-H projects, but it is unclear at this time how the children’s work would be judged.

“We want to make sure that members have the opportunity to complete their projects,” Nickels said.

Ohio 4-H does not support changing deadlines of projects nor switching projects, so members will not have the opportunity to change.

“Our goal is to definitely have displays and exhibits in that barn,” Nickels said. “And throughout the week we will have activities and events in the barn.”

The Junior Fair board is expected to meet at the end of the month to decide how 4-H members will be judged and what activities will be held in the fowl barn.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.