The Rabbit Show helped to get things hopping Monday morning as the Knox County 4-H Fair officially got underway for yet another year.
The fairgrounds in Bicknell — after being especially quiet last year due to COVID-19— were abuzz as children and their families carried cages of critters to to get settled in for the week and, eventually, be judged.
And all of them were thrilled to be back.
Jenny DeCoursey said the fresh farm smells and dedication of 4-H youngsters is advantageous.
“This has been very rewarding,” DeCoursey said of her daughter, Jenna, who worked Monday morning to prepare her rabbits for the show ring. “She learns how to take care of the animals, it teaches responsibility, and she makes new friends.
“4-H has been very rewarding for our kids,” she added.
The rabbit barn this year boasts a wide variety of bunnies of all sizes, shapes, and colors. Various breeds range from Angora and French Lop to Grand Chinchilla and Silver Marten, each of them with their own unique qualities.
And in a much louder category of livestock, the din of roosters could be heard throughout the fairgrounds, beckoning visitors to the poultry barn, which houses chickens, turkeys, and pigeons, too.
Across the way, families, settled in beloved livstock favorites like cattle, horses, pigs and llamas for the highly-anticipated fair week.
New this year to the fair, however, is additional signage encouraging people to keep social distancing in mind, per the advice of county health officer Dr. Alan Stewart.
Fair board members have added additional seating so people can spread out, and while masks aren’t mandated, they are encouraged for those who haven’t been vaccinated.
Even still, fair board member Carol Wampler was thrilled to see family and livestock gathering once again.
“This year things feel normal again,” she said.
Last year, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the fair was a shell of what people had come to expect. Grandstand events and the carnival were canceled as the fair was not open to the public.
Animals were brought in only for judging, and just youngsters and their immediate families were allowed to be present during judging.
Last year’s fair, too, required those few in attendance to wear masks, and fair board members spent as much time refilling jugs of hand sanitizer than water for animals.
But the focus both last year and this year remain the same: seeing local families come together to celebrate the county’s rich agricultural industry.
“We had cattle, and my daughter did some build events, too,” Wampler said of her own family. “There were probably 15 or 16 years between my son starting and daughter ending.
“This year my grandson is enjoying his first year of 4-H,” she continued. “They sent me pictures of the cows coming in, and it was like, ‘We’re back!’ ”
Local resident Marcie Powell said she, too, has been attending the fair her whole life. She was a 4-H member for ten years before moving to Las Vegas, Nevada.
She is happy now to share her first year back in Knox County with her two sons, Isaiah and Ezekiel Howard, who are participating in various 4-H events.
“It’s passing something down,” Powell said. “ I feel like they are getting a piece of my childhood.”