The Herkimer County Fair in Frankfort, NY, was a fun and enjoyable experience for many people. This fair had many rides, musical entertainment, art exhibits, and food vendors.
But while this fair served as another reason for people to do something fun during the summer, it was also a chance for local farmers to compete and win prizes. This fair also hosted many agriculture events from the day the fairgrounds first opened (Aug. 18) to the final day (Aug. 21).
“The agricultural events are a huge part of county fairs,” Sarah Hardy, the show’s superintendent, said. “We have a dairy show, a sheep show, a beef, and goat show. They have been doing it for many years.”
The fair’s agricultural festivities kicked off Thursday morning with the Herkimer County Fair Youth and Open Beef Show. It took place at the fairground’s Livestock Arena. In this show, according to Hardy, farmers both young and old brought and exhibited their own beef cows that they fed and raised. Judges, of this event, focused and graded the participants on how well he or she could show their cattle. The person who had the best showmanship won the contest.
“This event is just a way to educate people about agriculture,” Hardy said, “as well as giving the exhibitors (farmers) an opportunity to bring their animals, show them, and have them evaluated by a judge. Exhibitors enjoy showing their cattle.”
Raising a cow can be a difficult task for young farmers.
“It was hard at first because we had to tie halters to him and clean him constantly,” Seth Donahoe a dairy farmer in Clayville said. “It’s a really good learning experience for kids. They have to take a responsibility on, and they have to learn from their mistakes and what not (to do while raising a cow).”
The fair also hosted a dairy cow contest on Friday called the Youth and Open Color Breed Show. Several more trophies were given out in this competition. Audrey Donahoe, assistant dairy superintendent at the fair, said that this show had twice as many contests as the other show. Each dairy cow breed had a separate contest.
“There’s five cow breeds that attended this year’s competition,” Audrey Donahoe said. “There are Holstein, American Lineback, Brown Swiss, Jersey, and Guernsey cows. Those are the five dairy breeds that we have to show here, but they show in separate classes because there are separate breeds.”
Throughout the show, each judge went through all the cow classes. At the end of the show, the judges announced the winners of each division.
The judging for the Beef and Color Breed Show was a bit different. Audrey Donahoe said the judges for the Breed Show generally focused on the cow’s height and her how much milk she can produce.
“The dairies are judged on their udder, their growth, and what is the best description you can have of a cow because you want it to produce a lot of milk for you. So you look for certain traits in the animal that would enable them to do that.”
While the judges for the Beef Show focused on how well the farmers/contestants could show his or her cow, they also determined the cow’s weight and how much food the animal eats.
“As far as the Beef Breed Show goes, they are bred for eating,” Audrey Donahoe said. “So they judge them on their weight, how boxy they are, and what will be the best in order to process them, so you can eat them. The Beef Show is judged differently because they are a different type of animal for consumption.”
The fair hosted the Youth and Open Goat, Sheep, and Horse Shows throughout the Herkimer County Fair weekend. The judging for these shows depended on the animals’ physical appearances and how well the contestants could show their goats, sheep, and horses.