(Posted June 10, 2015)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
There will be no poultry shows at this year’s Madison County Fair.
In a move designed to protect the state’s $2.3 billion poultry industry from the avian flu, the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) canceled all live bird exhibitions this year. The ban includes county and independent fairs, the Ohio State Fair, and anywhere birds are shown or sold, including auctions and swap meets.
According to ODA, the avian flu is an extremely contagious virus that primarily affects domestic poultry and is believed to be spread by wild, migrating birds. The virus was first confirmed in the United States in late 2014. Since then, over 44 million birds at over 197 locations have been affected.
Shows and sales that bring together birds from different flocks raise concern about the potential spread of the virus. One way the virus spreads is through direct contact with contaminated materials coming from other infected birds.
With this concern in mind, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Michigan decided to cancel shows for at least the 2015 fair season. To date, only Indiana has had a flock test positive for the virus.
“Prevention is important,” said Darrell Champer, president of the Madison County Senior Fair Board. “It’s just unfortunate for the kids who show poultry. This definitely affects our Junior Fair Show the most.”
A total of 161 poultry projects—chickens, turkeys and ducks—were slated to be entered in this year’s Junior Fair by youths enrolled in 4-H and FFA. Normally, youths bring their animals to the fair for showmanship and/or market show contests, as well as the livestock auction.
“We’ve put together a subcommittee to try to figure ways for the kids to still complete their projects and be involved with activities at the fair,” Champer said.
The committee includes representatives from the 4-H advisory committee, livestock sale committee, Junior Fair Board, Senior Fair Board and Madison County/OSU Extension Office. They expect to have solutions by the end of this week.
This year’s Madison County Fair takes place July 12-18 at the fairgrounds in London.