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Postcards From The Pandemic: No Fair! 4-H Projects Remain In The Barn

For the young people across Ohio, who’ve spent the past year raising pigs, cows, chickens, and other animals, showing them at county fairs is the culmination of their work. This year the coronavirus pandemic has caused many fairs to be canceled.

Josie Wagner, a rising high school senior, has been raising animals as part of 4-H since she was eight. She talked about dealing with the disappointment of not being able to bring her rooster and rabbit to the Trumbull County Fair which was called off due to COVID-19.

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Josie Wagner's Ameraucana rooster "Bruno" at the 2019 Trumbull County Fair [Josie Wagner]

A Year-Round Commitment

This year I participated in a fancy poultry project and a pet rabbit project. Since my animals are pets or fancy projects, I take care of them year-round.

Raising an animal, whether it is a chicken or a cow, takes commitment. They need feed, water, bedding, housing and care. It takes time and money and effort to prepare them for the fair.

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Alessandra Matteo (left) and Josie Wagner (right) competing for best "continental" class of fancy poultry at the 2019 Trumbull County Fair [Josie Wagner]

Standard of Perfection

For my projects, the end goal is to show them against other animals and show what I have learned.

For example, I planned on taking an Ameraucana rooster. The judge would have judged him on his quality and how I took care of him, raised him and his standard of perfection.

I would also have the opportunity to have a competition against other kids my age on our knowledge of our animals.

I have a Flemish giant rabbit who I looked forward to showing. She's a good quality rabbit. I worked very hard with her throughout the year

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Josie Wagner (standing) sharing with Brigid Donlin-Wagner the proper procedure for rabbit showing at the 2019 Trumbull County Fair [Josie Wagner]

Until Next Year

I was shocked to hear that the Trumbull County Fair was canceled. I was disappointed being a senior. This is one of the last years I have participating in 4-H.

I just look forward to next year’s fair, and hopefully I'll have that opportunity again. I do feel bad for kids if this was their last fair or the last time they could show that project.

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Josie Wagner leaving the ring with her Mini-Nubian goat "Lighting Bolt" following the open class goat show competition at the 2019 Trumbull County Fair [Josie Wagner]

To Market, To Market

Since I don’t have any market animals, I will raise them and use them next year. If I had something like a market chicken, which I had before, they would have an auction.

They decided not have an auction, but they set up a way that kids could still sell their animals. They did it through social media, so anyone who wanted to support the kids who had projects they needed to sell, they were able to buy it that way.

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2019 Trumbull County 4-H Queen Josie Wagner [Josie Wagner]

More Than Just The Fair

I do have many friends involved in 4-H. This is a social outlet. Through Zoom, I was able to host meetings being the president of my 4-H club. I was able to meet up with other members to discuss what was going on, to encourage each other and continue our projects.

I do miss not seeing friends from other clubs. I do hope to see them soon at next year’s fair.

This postcard was produced with help from Ethan Sands.

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