VAN WERT — Ryan Renner, 14, who attends Lincolnview High School, was showing his various animal projects at the Van Wert County Fair Saturday. He hopes to one day take over the family farm.
“We own 150 head of cattle and we own 150 acres of land and I would like to keep it in the family,” said Renner.
Renner is a member of the Hoagland Farmers 4-H Club.
The fair provides an educational opportunity for kids like Renner to learn what it’s like to be involved in agriculture.
In Van Wert, there are more than 500 people involved in the Junior Fair and a select few who serve on the Junior Fair Board.
“We have 30 kids. They go through an interview process to get on so it all starts in January with our first weigh-ins. We’ll start with beef. We go into June tagging hogs and start the weigh-in process for dairy feeders, goats and sheep and then it comes down to the couple months leading up to fair. We’ll have work meetings every weekend and the week before fair we’ll set up the gates and get info fair mode,” said Ryan Moore Junior Fair Coordinator.
“We basically run everything that happens with the animals. We set the barns up, run the shows, anything you can think of we basically do,” Ethan Kemler, vice president of the Junior Fair Board.
Participating in the Junior Fair with various projects means taking a lot of responsibility.
“I’ve taken animals for ten years. I’ve learned how to take care of them. I’ve met lots of friends. If you don’t do hard work you’re not going to win and everybody wants to win so it pushes everyone,” said Kemler.
The Labor Day weekend can make or break the fair.
“It’s our bread and butter,” said Mike Poling, Fair Manager.
It’s Poling’s first year as manager and he says so far it’s been pretty good.
“It’s been a good start, no weather issues yet. We’ve had good turnouts,” said Poling.
Many small fairs can’t afford to bring in big-name talent but it was announced that next year will be a different story.
“We’re working with the Niswonger Performing Arts Center to be the venue for their opening act for 2020 and they will make that announcement sometime after the first of the year,” said Poling.
On Saturday there was motocross racing in the infield of the grandstand.
On Sunday there’s the demolition derby and on Labor Day, the final day of the fair, there’s thoroughbred racing at the grandstand.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.