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It’s worth all the hard work at the Jefferson County Fair

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

Savannah Walls, winner of several grand champion awards at this year's fair, offers her lamb for auction Saturday afternoon. Photo by Toni Milbourne.

KEARNEYSVILLE — Walking through the animal barns at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, one can find dozens and dozens of animals, from goats to sheep, to pigs and cows. Many of these animals come to the fair as projects raised by the youth of Jefferson County. While many of these young people are in 4-H or the Future Farmers of America organization, some just raise animals because they enjoy it.

Whatever the reason the young folks have, their hard work and commitment are evident, as they are at the fairgrounds every day — often from early morning to late at night — to care for their animals.

They take great pride in showing their animals in hopes to win ribbons from the judges or even just applause from the crowds.

But the work put into showing an animal at the fair does not begin the day the animal is loaded on the truck to head to the fairgrounds. For the past nine to 12 months, the animal has been raised and cared for by the owner, in preparation for the county event.

No one knows more about the work involved than Savannah Walls, who has been showing animals at the fair for the past five years.

“I’ve been showing at the fair for five years, but I’ve raised animals all my life,” Walls said. “When I was little, I didn’t want to show animals, but now I think it’s fun.”

And her idea of fun has paid off as Walls earned several top awards at this year’s fair including Grand Champion status for her goat and her market lamb. She also received the Reserve Champion award for her market steer.

The local awards were not the only ones garnered by Walls this year. She also won Reserve Champion in the steer category at the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg earlier this summer, as well as Intermediate Champion for her heifer.

The accolades and awards bring many smiles, but they come at the cost of much hard work throughout the year. Walls, who was joined at the fair this year by her sister, Diamond Ross, said it takes a lot of work to raise animals. The animals must be fed and watered daily, a task Walls and Ross say they regularly share. There have also put many hours into training and preparing the animals for the show ring.

Agreeing with Ross and Walls, long-time fair participant Mikayla Willingham said hard work is definitely required to show animals at the Jefferson County Fair. Willingham has entered animals at the fair since 2009, when she started as part of her 4-H Club activities. This year, Willingham showed three dairy heifers and two pigs.