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Real Stars Are Out In The Barns

‘Party With the Animals” is the theme of this year’s fair, so don’t forget to head for the barns.

Each year, exhibitors flock to show their prize animals. You’ll find rabbits and guinea pigs, sheep and goats. There are draft horses, cattle, swine, and poultry of every description.

This year, more than 10,000 exhibits will be entered, displayed and judged.

“The people who bring their pet rabbit, their favorite jar of jelly or the quilt they just made - they’re the heart and and guts of the fair,” said Fair Manager Barbara Renner. “They’re what set us apart from any theme park or trade show.”

The fair offers lots of city dwellers their only chance to see the difference between a Holstein and a Jersey cow; a turkey and a goose. It’s a great chance to take in the earthy, exciting smells and sounds that are part of the territory with livestock.

For a good laugh, catch the amateur cow-milking contest at 11 a.m. every day of the fair. Better yet, enter. You can sign up in Barn 17 from 11 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

But don’t stop at the animals.

There’s a food department overflowing with homebaked breads, pies, candies and cakes. Food preservers will be interested in the canning department, not to mention dried fruits and vegetables and home-brewed beers and wines.

Look for plenty of culinary action Saturday. The Commissioners’ Apple Pie Contest will be judged by commissioners of Idaho’s five northern counties at 11 a.m. (Who says public office is a thankless task?)

At 5 p.m., experts from the Ground Round restaurant will judge a burger contest.

Gardening enthusiasts can find lots to see, from home-grown fruits and vegetables to field crops like peas and wheat. And don’t miss the flowers!

“People love the smell of the roses, the awesomeness of the dahlias. Sometimes the dahlias get as big as basketballs,” said Nancy Chriswell, a superintendent of the flower department for the past five years.

Why do people exhibit?

“It’s not so much the recognition, or the $3 first prize,” Chriswell said. “I think it’s more the sport of growing or making something and the chance to share.”

You don’t have to live on a farm to get in on the act. Apartment-dwellers can enter potted begonias. The fine arts and photography departments give visual artists a chance to exhibit their work, while the arts and crafts and hobby collections departments create a forum for everything from macrame to stamps. There’s even a department for plastic models.

Those with woodworking skills can display their furniture and carvings. The nimble-fingered will appreciate the needlework department and the department of handwoven and handspun articles. There’s a quilt department, too, encompassing not only quilts but handmade rugs, afghans, and wall hangings.

Theresa Frank is a spinner who enters handspun knitted and crocheted items and sometimes canned goods, flowers and vegetables as well.

“I like to take a lot of different things. I do it because I think it’s fun, and I like to find out what others think,” she said.

Frank believes the basic skills showcased by the fair are far from dying. Case in point: her 6-year-old grandson just finished making a quilt for his baby sister.

“Quilting is coming back. Spinning is really coming back. Woodworking is going great guns, as far as I can see.”

According to Frank, the readymade age we live in will never snuff out the need for some people to do it themselves.

“There will always be someone that wants to take it from the beginning. Like me - I love to shear a sheep, then wash the wool, spin it, and make something. I’ll never give that up. It’s in my blood.” xxxx EXHIBIT RETRIEVAL Exhibitors, don’t forget the new pick-up time this year. Retrieve your exhibited items after noon on Monday, rather than on Sunday evening, as in the past. This new rule does not apply to 4-H exhibits and livestock.