Fair Board Establishes New Poultry Guidelines

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  1. Poultry Guidelines 3:04

This year’s Athens County fair will be missing one familiar sight and sound. Due to new regulations prompted by avian flu concerns, poultry will be prohibited from fairs across Ohio.

That changed things for 2014 Athens County Fair Queen Sierra Powell, who has shown chickens at the fair for the last decade. This is Powell’s last year participating in the fair.

“Poultry is kind of my thing,” said Powell. “I’ve won pro showmanship 4 years for it, and so I was kind of disappointed that I wasn’t able to do it this year. But I know that the fair board is going to figure out something to make up for it.”

According to Athens County 4-H educator Brittany Mendez, they have. While live birds will still be prohibited from the fairgrounds, exhibitors will be allowed to participate by providing photographs of their animals and demonstrating their knowledge to judges.

“The kids will be able to complete their projects,” said Mendez.  “They just won’t have live birds at the fair.”

Powell, and about 130 other 4-H clubs members set to show poultry at this year’s fair, will also be subject to new judging criteria. Mendez says because judges will no longer be allowed to touch live birds, they will be asked to rely on other indicators to make decisions.

“They’ll still get to be with the judges at that dynamic,” said Mendez.” “The judge will still ask them questions, they’ll still get ranked and they’ll still have the opportunity to sell at the fair.”

For those that use the fair as an opportunity to sell their chickens, the new regulations may be more disappointing. Buyers typically inspect live chickens before making a purchase.

“I think we have such a sense of community here that people will really band together to help these kids,” said Mendez.” “They realize that it is a downside, you want to go show your animal. You want to show people how good it looks. So I think our buyers will really encourage these kids to stick with it. And it’s a part of agriculture, there are wins and loses in agriculture. And this is a great lesson for kids to learn about sometimes how diseases are spread.”

Mendez says the Fair Board will continue to monitor what other fairs in Ohio are doing in response to the new regulations throughout the summer.