One of the big attractions for 4-Hers at the Linn County Fair this year is the Farm Olympics.
“The kids work hard at being competitive and professional all week and then they get to be farm kids,” said Robin Galloway, Oregon State University Extension Linn County 4-H agent.
They take part in a tug of war, do a milk chug-a-lug, do cow milking and hay stacking — all of the things kids will do and get dirty and sweaty and not have to care, she said.
The event starts at 11 a.m. Sunday. Times for all events at this year’s fair are approximate.
Another fun competition is the pack-goat event that is set for 6 p.m. Friday in the goat ring. In an hour-long period, goats with packs on their backs are lead through an obstacle course.
“Fresh greenery is put alongside the trail and some of the goats will try to stop and eat the props,” Galloway said. “It’s fun to see the relationship that builds between the children and their animals.”
Early Sunday afternoon there’s even more fun coming, she said. Small animals will go through an obstacle course of their own. Rabbits are sent over jumps and will weave through poles. To do that, they have to be bribed with food.
The big attraction at the fair continues to be the public coming to look at the livestock, Galloway said.
On hand will be beef, sheep, swine, poultry and rabbits.
“The public likes to get up close and look at, say pigs, right in the eye,” she said. “It’s best that people take a few precautions when they visit the animals.”
Galloway asked that people wash their hands after touching animals and save their eating for outside the barns.
“What sends shudders up my spine every year is to see children drop their pacifiers on the ground in a barn and then watch parents put the pacifier back in their child’s mouth,” she said.
Animals carry diseases such as swine and bird flu, so people need to be aware of that.
Lots of animals have sharp teeth, so before touching an animal, ask someone nearby if it would be all right to pet an animal.
“Remember, if there is an animal being milked in an aisle, that animal can kick,” Galloway said.
If cattle get scared they may bolt. “We ask people to stay out of the way and respect the power of an animal,” she said.
Thursday through Sunday there are a variety of animal showmanship classes on tap. Children will demonstrate their ability to present their animals before a judge, and there are also breed classes to see how close an animal meets the standards of a breed.
The auction is at 3 p.m. Saturday for sheep, wine, poultry, rabbits and goats. Market goats are becoming more and more popular for their meat and for the cheese made from their milk.
A big change this year is the location of the auction: It moves from the beef ring in the warm-up arena to the Santiam Building.
About 550 different children have entered the
4-H/FFA portion of the fair this year, and many have multiple entries.
“Linn County continues to be very rural and supportive of the family structure,” Galloway said. “The key to our success is the volunteer adults. They put in huge amounts of personal time, commitment and money because they care about the future of kids.”