New to the fair: Livestock 101

Sara Oney of London, a member of the Country Bunch 4-H Club and London FFA, competes in swine showmanship at last year’s Madison County Fair. In addition to presenting the usual Junior Fair livestock shows, this year’s fair includes Livestock 101, a chance for youths who have never shown an animal to give it a try with guidance from experienced 4-H and FFA exhibitors.

(Posted June 22, 2021)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Youths who are curious about what it’s like to exhibit an animal at the fair now have a chance to give it a try with no strings attached.

Madison County Fair organizers have introduced Livestock 101, a competition for youths 17 or younger that mimics a Junior Fair livestock show. The event will take place at 1 p.m. July 16 in the Eby Arena on the fairgrounds.

“This is a very unique concept. It’s never been done before,” said Paul Gross, Senior Fair Board president. “We have 51 kids already signed up for it which is a pretty good number. We expect to have over 100 by fair time.”

Participants can choose the species/project they would like to show–cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, alpacas, poultry, or rabbits. Experienced 4-H and FFA youth exhibitors will serve as their coaches, providing guidance before and during the show.

“The mentors will be tasked with leading the novices through the mechanics of showing an animal. It’s a way for them to share their knowledge and skills,” Gross said.

Actual livestock judges will judge each species category. Local and state dignitaries will be in the ring, as well, as a show of support. Prizes will be awarded.

“We’re trying to make the kids feel like this is really cool. There will be lots of pomp and circumstance to make a big deal of their first experience,” Gross said.

About the dignitaries, he added, “We have a big following of people who are supporting this. It’s gotten a lot of statewide attention that we didn’t expect but I’m not really surprised by.”

Most of the youths who have already signed up are from Madison County, but the event also has attracted participants from several other counties.

“We never expected that. We’re thrilled because it makes for a bigger, better fair,” Gross said. “We also have 4-H kids who want to show a different animal. We didn’t expect that either.”

The overall goal of Livestock 101 is to introduce youths to the 4-H, FFA, and fair experience with the hope they will engage in the programs on a long-term basis.

“We hope they will enjoy the experience and spend their summer next year with an animal of their own” Gross said, adding that he’d like to see more youths get involved with 4-H to see what it has to offer.

There is no charge to sign up for Livestock 101. Registration is due by July 1 at Each participants receives an event t-shirt.

Bluebird Retirement Community is the event sponsor.

This year’s Madison County Fair takes place July 10-17 at the Madison County Fairgrounds, 205 Elm St., London. For a schedule and additional information, visit


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