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Cows, pigs and chickens — oh my!

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 21, 2020 1:08 AM

Benewah County Fair gives 4-H kids an opportunity to shine

ST. MARIES — With smiling families and squealing swine, the Benewah County Fair kicked off its 2020 Junior Livestock Show and Sale Thursday.

Amid an epidemic of pandemic cancellations, the fair pushed forward with its celebration by eliminating some of its regular events. This weekend, fair visitors can expect livestock shows and exhibits like produce, arts and crafts.

Kenny Moore, chairman of the Benewah County Fair Board, said their main goal was to let kids showcase their market animals.

“The Show and Sale are very important to these kids,” he said. “By the time they feed and care for it, they need the sale and the support of the community to pay themselves to do it again.”

Moore attributes the fair’s success to the auction.

“I’m really happy to be here. There is a group of 10 or 12 of us that work year-round to keep this going,” Moore said. “We’re always doing something to put it on while trying to make it different or better.”

Born and raised in St. Maries, Moore said the community is excited to host this event. He became involved with planning the fair when his children were in 4-H.

“They get to learn about and care for animals, interact with people, make friends,” Moore said. “Most of all, they learn responsibility.”

Allison Dundas, 16, has been in 4-H for nine years and showing swine for seven. Growing up in St. Maries, she and three of her older siblings became interested in pigs at a young age.

“Pig is one of the easier animals to start with raising. As I got older, I really enjoyed raising them,” Dundas said. “It’s nice to spend the summer getting to do something like this.”

She said the pigs are usually six to eight weeks old when she begins raising them. Her pig, Roscoe, is almost seven months old and placed third in her show group Thursday afternoon. Dundas said there are many factors judges consider during a showing, including the pig’s body structure and the owner’s ability to confidently guide their stock.

“You want to show the side, front, and back profile and keep the pig’s head up so the judge can see the structure well,” she said. “One thing the judges like is eye contact and smiling. It acknowledges that you know they are judging your animal and have respect.”

Currently home-schooled, Dundas plans on going to the Montana Wilderness School of The Bible after graduation and hopes to become a certified organic dairy farmer. Unfortunately, she said, next year would be the last time she can show an animal, but the lessons she’s learned in 4-H will last a lifetime.

“What I love about 4-H is the community,” she said. “We are so close and help each other with everything; it’s great to grow up in this type of thing where you learn how to be around people.”

Benewah County’s Show and Sale features beef, swine, rabbits, goats, lambs, sheep, and poultry.

Gabrielle Harold from St. Maries has been showing chickens since she was 7. Now 17, Harold won the grand champion award for quality on her black silkie chicken submission, Pepper.

“I was very excited the fair happened this year, partly because I raised market goats, which are important to me, and because I’m really proud of my chicken and wanted to show her off,” she said. “Black silkies are a rare breed of chicken because they have five toes, blue skin and blue meat. They’re a great show bird because they’re small enough to fit in my hand but not so small that I can’t catch them if they fly away.”

Next year will be her last show year as she heads off to North Idaho College. Being a part of 4-H has influenced her life, she said, and she is thankful for the opportunities it has given her.

“I love everything I’ve learned about being a leader because of 4-H,” Harold said. “I also love how all the things I get to learn through this program I can use in the future.”

Festivities run through Sunday at the Benewah County Fairgrounds.

Bonner County is also hosting its 2020 fair through Saturday night.

The North Idaho State Fair in Coeur d’Alene was canceled due to the coronavirus.

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Allison Dundas guides her show pig, Roscoe, around the pen to impress judges at the Benewah County Fair Junior Show and Sale event. (MADISON HARDY/Press)

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Allison Dundas’ show pig, Roscoe, smiles for the camera at the Benewah County Fair Junior Livestock Show and Sale event on Thursday in St. Maries.

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A giant cabbage won the grand champion award at the Benewah County Fair in St. Maries this weekend. (MADISON HARDY/Press)