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Due to inclement weather expected from the approach of Hurricane Michael, the North Carolina State Fair will not be open on its first day, Thursday, as planned.
The fair will open Friday at 10 a.m.
“We did not come to this decision lightly,” said Kent Yelverton, fair manager. “In fact, to our knowledge, we’ve never delayed our opening day due to weather conditions. Most importantly, we must consider our vendors, exhibitors and of course fairgoers in any decision made about gate closures. We want to give fairgoers who would have visited the fair tomorrow plenty of time to adjust their plans and visit us later in the week. All admission tickets, ride wristbands and ride tickets are valid any day of the fair.”
The North Carolina State Fair has plenty of Wilson County participants.
According to Jessica Anderson, North Carolina Cooperative Extension agent in Wilson County, some 22 youth, all members of 4-H clubs, will be showing cattle, pigs, lambs and goats.
“We have exhibitors from Wilson County who are showing all of those species. The first weekend of the state fair is really the junior weekend for the livestock shows. It is the busiest weekend for the livestock competitions.” The best days to see them are Friday and Saturday.
The beef cattle will be in the Jim Graham Building. The pigs will be in the Kelly Building, and the sheep and goats will be in the Expo Building.
“All three of those buildings are kind of close to each other, and so you can bounce around those and see all of those livestock shows going on,” Anderson said.
Anderson advises that if you want to see the Wilson County kids in particular, Friday may be your best bet.
“That is when the majority of the steers, some heifer shows and pigs and lambs are all going on at the same time,” Anderson said. “Saturday, though, it’s great to see the Sale of Champions if you have never seen it done. They sell all the champion animals at a live auction in the Jim Graham Building, and that is a really fun event to see.”
The state fair gives young livestock competitors a chance to step up their game.
“It is really competitive,” Anderson said. “The opportunities for these kids to participate at a regional level and now a state level gives them a lot more to look forward to, a lot bigger prizes to win and a lot more competition to make themselves the best showman that they can be and that then increases the competition at the local level for our county show.
“The Kelly Building will be hopping on Friday and Saturday for the pig shows,” Anderson said.
Several breeders from Wilson County will be showing this weekend, and several families involved in the beef cattle side of things will be exhibiting mostly Friday and Saturday at the fair.
The Expo Building is affectionately referred to among competitors as “The Ark” because of the wide variety of display animals.
“There are a lot of different breeds on display, usually a horse and her mule, a sow and piglets, sheep and goats and baby chicks.
“It’s usually a good display area to have people see the different types of animals and some of the young cute animals as well,” Anderson said.
LOCAL WINNERS COMPETE
Many of the ribbon winners from the Wilson County 4-H Livestock Show and Sale will be in Raleigh for the event.
“Our grand steer winner was Ross Hinnant. He will be there. Our grand pen of three was Logan Ballance. She will be up there showing pigs,” Anderson said. “Reserve pen of three was Ethan Thompson, and he will be up there showing pigs. Our reserve pig winner was Sarah Scott, and she will be there.”
Anderson will be acting as superintendent of the Junior Beef Heifer shows, which means she is in charge of the beef cattle heifers. Walter Earl, a retired director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension office in Wilson County, is in charge of the Junior Market Steers.
“So it’s kind of a Wilson invasion on the beef cattle side of things,” Anderson said. Between the two, they will be looking after more than 500 cows.
“It is a lot of animals, and a lot of people so you are moving things around a lot and just getting that many animals into the barn and getting them checked in and everybody where they need to go is a task,” Anderson said.
Other young Wilson County competitors include T and McLane Sharp, Sims, hogs; Riley Ballance, Lucama, hogs; Faith and Luke Jones, Wilson, hogs; Ashley Roberson, Wilson, hogs; Ben Scott, Lucama, hogs; Kate Hinnant, Kenly, steers and lambs; Sloane Hinnant, Kenly, lambs; Annah Claire Sullivan, Lucama, steers, heifers and lambs; Liza Sullivan, Lucama, heifers and goats; Emma Vick, Wilson, steers and heifers; Charlotte Edwards, Lucama, lambs; James Gardner, Wilson, steers and lambs; Parker Gardner, Wilson, lambs; Rachel and Jacob Thomason, Elm City, lambs; and Hope Nguyen, Sims, goats.
According to Anderson, there is a specific livestock competition schedule that is out and that will tell you exactly when everything is going to be judged and what building it’s going to be in. That, and much more information can be found at ncstatefair.org.