Annual fair attracts quality exhibits
Kaitlyn Christie sat on her tack box in the livestock barn sorting through a deck of cards, her 1,338-pound steer, Ed, sleeping in the stall across from her.
The 9-year-old Palmyra 4-H'er was taking it easy knowing she would be plenty busy the following day during the beef show at the Douglas County Free Fair.
Not only did Kaitlyn know she would have to spend all of Friday morning washing, grooming and readying Ed for the show, but she would have to prepare herself for the competition as well.
"I get really excited, but I also get really nervous," she said of showing her steer in the ring. "It's kind of hard. You have to look at the judge the entire time, but you also don't want to get your feet stepped on either. But I think I'm going to do OK, because (Ed) is really gentle."
Kaitlyn wasn't the only 4-H'er that was probably a little excited and nervous last week. Hundreds of Douglas County 4-H'ers, including several from the Baldwin area, participated in the annual county fair in Lawrence, which ended Sunday.
"It was a very nice and enjoyable fair," Kim Davis, Douglas County 4-H agent, said. "I was very pleased. What an awesome fair we have."
Others seemed pleased as well, because, according to Trudy Rice, county extension director, fair attendance was higher than the past few years.
She attributed increased attendance not only to events like the Saturday concert with Dierks Bently, but the unusually mild weather.
"It was just wonderful," she said.
Those who attended the fair were able to see a wide range of exhibits, everything from the traditional livestock, cooking and horticulture to the popular clothing and photography exhibits.
Davis said she has worked at fairs in three states and said Douglas County 4-H'ers have some of the best exhibits she has seen.
"We do exhibit some of the better quality things," she said. "We have a lot of talented youth in the county."
Rice agreed with Davis.
"Many of our judges also judge in other fairs, and they never fail to mention the quality here is one of the best in the state," she said.
Davis said she is already looking forward to next year.
"Only 51 weeks until next year's fair," she said.
Kaitlyn said she just wanted to make it through the beef show so she could get out of her boots and rest.
"After you show them, you just want to take off your boots because you've been wearing them all week," she said.