(Posted Jan. 19, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Who let the dogs back in? The Madison County Junior Fair Board.
For the first time since 2006, the Junior Fair Dog Show will take place during the Madison County Fair. Show time is 9 a.m. July 17. Fair week is July 12-18.
For years, the dog show took place on the fairgrounds during fair week, usually in the youth arena and sometimes partially in the hog barn. Dog shows need two rings, one for showmanship and another for obedience. They also require clean floors, free of the shavings that usually cover the ground for livestock shows.
Finding enough of the right kind of space during fair week became difficult, said Cheryl Baltzer, 4-H key leader for dogs at the time. So, starting eight years ago, the dog show has taken place two to three weeks before the fair in the fairgrounds’ Della Selsor Building.
The result, said Bryan Wilson, executive director of the Junior Fair Advisory Committee, is that “The dog exhibitors don’t feel that they are part of the fair.”
This year’s Junior Fair Board decided to change that, making room in the fair week schedule for the dog show and lining up the manpower to make the logistics possible.
The show will take place in the Della Selsor. Adult volunteers will clear the space the night before the show, then reset it for the show the next morning. A space will be sectioned off for public seating.
LuAnn Dillon, 4-H dog key leader with Jennifer Sweet, said she has mixed feelings about the shift back to the fair. Her children showed dogs at the fair, one when the show was during fair week and the other more recently. She sees the pros and cons of both set-ups, she said.
“Putting it back in fair week is good for getting the word out there. The public will be able to see the show and see dogs at the fair, but it’s easier on the dogs when there’s less commotion going on,” she said.
The Junior Fair Board came up with a plan to decrease the chance that the hubbub and smells of the fair will distract the dogs. Dog exhibitors will receive a special pass to park in front of the Ohio State University Extension Office at the front of the fairgrounds. They’ll bring their dogs through the front door of the Della the morning of the show. No food will be allowed in the Della during the show, and dogs will exit the fairgrounds immediately after the show.
The Madison County Junior Fair Dog Show averages about 20 entries per year.
Also returning to fair week are the Junior Fair project interviews. They will take place July 12-13.
Previously, exhibitors completed skill-a-thon tests and project interviews before fair week. The interviews were conducted by one judge with no animals present.
Now, separate judges for each species will be on hand to conduct the interviews, and animals will be present. This will enhance the educational value of the experience, Wilson said. Skill-a-thons will still take place before the fair. The dates are June 24 and June 30 with a make-up date of July 13.
New for this year’s Junior Fair is a “high point” equestrian award for the Western and English divisions. Based on a points system, the award is similar to the premier exhibitor award for livestock projects.
“It’s a way to get the horse people more involved,” Wilson said.
The Junior Fair Board also is looking into a request to add an alpaca and llama show to the 2015 fair.
The Madison County Junior Fair Board is a youth-led organization that directs the youth shows that take place during the county fair. This year’s board has 48 members, up from about 28 last year.