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Johnson column: Rowan County Fair will be here Sept. 15-20

By Brad Johnson
Cooperative Extension Service
Can you believe the Rowan County Fair is just around the corner (Sept. 15-20)?
When was the last time you and your family attended the fair?
For a Cooperative Extension educator, the week of the Rowan County Fair is one of the most challenging, sleepless, hardest-working weeks of the year. But it is also one of the most fun and rewarding weeks, too.
The Faith and Spencer Jaycees spend countless hours organizing and operating the fair with help from a large number of invaluable volunteers. They coordinate their respective departments, while Cooperative Extension helps with the educational aspects of the fair.
From a dairy and livestock point of view, the Rowan County Fair has evolved into one of the premier fairs in North Carolina. The fair hosts the largest county fair dairy show in the state, with more than 150 head being shown by exhibitors from throughout the Piedmont. Depending on how many dairy entries the North Carolina Mountain State Fair has, the Rowan County Fair Dairy Show is the third- or fourth-largest dairy show in the state, behind the North Carolina State Fair, Dixie Classic Fair and N.C. Mountain State Fair.
The size of the dairy show isn’t the only thing going for it. The show hosts a large number of dairy cattle that are very competitive at regional fairs, state fairs and nationally. The dairy show is Sept. 20 at 1 p.m.
The Rowan County Fair Beef Show isn’t quite as large, since the sheep, meat goats and broiler pens of three are in the livestock barns at the same time as the beef cattle. However, the beef show hosts more than 100 head of cattle that come from across North Carolina to compete in a show that has gained the reputation as the most competitive county fair beef show in the state. The barn is annually full of outstanding beef cattle that have been, or will be, state fair and/or national champions. The beef show is Sept. 16 at 5 p.m.
The Rowan County Fair Breeding Ewe, Market Lamb, Meat Goat and Broiler Pen of Three shows are closed to Rowan County junior exhibitors. However, I am especially proud of the sheep exhibitors for the quality of critters I’m anticipating they’ll exhibit at this year’s fair.
Last year’s fair produced several class winners at the North Carolina State Fair, and this year’s sheep entries are even better. The breeding ewe show is Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. and is followed by the meat goat show. The market lamb show is Sept. 17 at 5 p.m. The market lamb sale follows the show at 7:30 p.m.
Many area businesses and individuals selflessly provide sponsorship for the market lamb exhibitors through the sale.
The Broiler Pen of Three Show is a team effort of Piedmont Research Station, Rowan-Salisbury high schools with agriculture programs and Rowan County Cooperative Extension. The students receive their chickens as hatchlings five weeks before the fair and at fair time, many of the birds will weigh 5.5 to 6 pounds. The Broiler Pen of Three Show is the evening of Sept. 15, with the sale following the market lamb sale Sept. 17. The numerous sponsors of the exhibitors are greatly appreciated. The proceeds from the actual sale of the birds are donated to a local charity.
It would be wrong to talk up the great livestock at the Rowan County Fair without mentioning the great people who exhibit the stock. The exhibitors are some of the most professional and personable folks you will meet. If you have a question, just ask. They’ll be glad to take the time to answer.
One of my greatest honors is getting to work with many of the exhibitors every day, consulting on the management, feeding and preparation of their stock. Not only do the exhibitors learn about the livestock industry, but they (the youth in particular) also learn the invaluable life skills of responsibility, decision-making, teamwork, development of a work ethic and much more.
The livestock may be what the average fair-goer comes to the Rowan County Fair to see, but for me, the true stars of the show are the exhibitors.
I know they’re not good for you, but I can’t wait to eat a deep-fried Twinkie!
I hope to see you at the fair.
Brad Johnson is an agriculture-livestock and dairy Extension agent.

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