Fairgrounds undergo some improvements

Lauren Phillips, 14, of Leavittsburg, president of the Trumbull County Equestrian 4-H Club, rolls paint onto the wood planks inside one of the horse stalls last week at the Trumbull County Fairgrounds. Phillips will be showing two horses, an Arabian and a Quarter Horse, at the fair and also raised market pigs and lambs to be sold at the fair auction. Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple

BAZETTA — When the Trumbull County Fairgrounds open today, fairgoers and exhibitors will see improvements to the grounds.

In recent years, areas like the milking parlor and restrooms have been renovated, and this year, the Historical Village, which hosts the opening ceremony and various performers, has been upgraded from a tent to a pavilion.

“We used to rent a tent. Now we have a solid structure where people can get out of the sun,” said Harry Rodgers, president of the fair board. “(People) can eat, we have picnic tables. We have some dancers and bands coming to play on the stage. We built a 40- by 84-foot pavilion for local entertainment that was completed July 5, 2018.”

Other renovations include improvements to the historical church and drainage in the parking lots.

“In the Historic Village area, we put all new windows and doors on the church, and we had a bell put up in the steeple,” said Rodgers. “We fixed some drains to get rid of water in the parking lots, and 4-Hers have been working hard on cleaning their barns to make them look good for this week.”

The lights, the midway attractions and the smells of the fair food can often overshadow the backbone of the fair — 4-H and agriculture.

Meghan Turon, co-adviser of the dairy 4-H group, Cows R Us, said the organization, which according to its website began in the late 1800s, “gives kids a new perspective and allows them to work on communication … show their talents and excel in new areas.”

Many members of local 4-H clubs are active at the fair.

Turon said although many associate 4-H with large farming animals, that’s not always the case. There are many clubs for the youth that range from gerbils in a small animal club to large animals, like cows and horses.

Monthly club meetings typically start in December and last up until fair week. Members are required to complete a project book and go to a quality assurance meeting to ensure the ethical treatment of animals per industry standards.

“Quality assurance helps bring the realism to a child’s project,” said Turon. “It teaches industry standards that many are removed from. They see the fun calf that they raise, but not the regulations. It gives the necessary perspective.”

The true test of an exhibitor’s work comes in their showmanship class, where a judge places the members based on their skill showing the animal and their knowledge about the project.

The showmanship competitions happen later in the week at the fair.

“Showmanship allows members to take pride in their project,” said Turon. “If my kids know that they did their best by working with their animal and prepping their animal, they can be proud of their project. Showmanship, ultimately, is a great way for a member to get to know their animal and learn responsibility.”