In the Dutchess County Spotlight
Dutchess Fair Focus is Always Agriculture
On August 21, more than 334 dairy cows, 74 beef cows, 242 sheep, 180 goats and 600 poultry class birds join rabbits, hogs, llamas, alpacas and horses on livestock hill at the 167th Dutchess County Fair.
Last year's hurricane interrupted the livestock show, and this year entries are expected to reach peak levels in support of the recovering fairgrounds. Cattle entries include both dairy breeds such as Holsteins, Jerseys, Guernsey, Brown Swiss and Ayrshires and beef cattle types such as Aberdeen Angus and Hereford.
Judges consider the overall conformation of an animal, as well as the condition of the coats, proportion of fat to muscle, and showmanship, when awarding prizes.
For years, it has been considered quite prestigious in the Northeast (and nationally) for livestock to do well at the Dutchess County Fair. Many former champions went on to the New York State Fair and beyond for additional awards.
Sheep are judged according to similar criteria, with special attention paid to the condition and quality of wool. Southdown, Dorset, Montadale, Oxford, Hampshire, Suffolk and Tunis are just some of the breeds represented in the Sheep Pavilion. Volunteers also gather in the Sheep Pavilion and offer continuous spinning, weaving and dyeing demonstrations.
The 4-H has been an integral part of the Fair's Livestock shows. While trends (and space) in recent years have seen 4-Hers raising smaller livestock, their shows continue to include sheep, goats, cows and hogs. Other children enjoy seeing the rabbits and brightly colored chickens they raise. Young exhibitors also compete in the popular Costume Classes. Both owner and animal dress up in coordinated outfits, and the amusing results have entertained fairgoers for years.The fair also hosts a 4-H Livestock Auction starting at 4pm on Saturday in the Livestock arena. The 2011 hurricane cancelled this show last year and a smaller version was held after Labor Day. This year's show is expected to draw record buyers in support of the 4-H programs. All animals will be sold according to weight on opening day and only Dutchess County 4-Hers can sell animals in the sale.
While the open- poultry show is held on Wednesday, the cacophony of domestic and exotic birds can be heard all week in the Poultry Barn. 4-H rabbits and cavies are also housed with these beautiful creatures.
Weeklong activities on Livestock Hill culminate with the Grand Champion Livestock Showmanship Contest on Sunday at 10am. Afterwards the Livestock Pavilion turns into some serious fun as a Husband Calling Contest, Stick Pony Rodeo, Grand Champion All Breeds Costume Class and Chicken Clucking and Rooster crowing contests get under way.
Livestock Hill, while offering all the beauty, vitality and scientific knowledge of the area's best farms, it is not the only place fairgoers can enjoy outstanding animals. The Oval offers the Salute to Agriculture and Dairy Birthing Center, plus a new Soy Bean production exhibit, as well as the visually stunning horse shows. The 4-H Horse Show starts the slate on Tuesday, 8/21, followed by a local English Horse show on Wednesday, and open English Horse shows on Thursday and Friday. Also on Friday, Aug 24, is the Dutchess County Fair Horse Show High Jump at 3pm. The record jump of 5'3" may very well be broken this year and autographs will be available! A Western Show takes place Saturday, and the magnificent Draft Horse and Driving show is held on Sunday.
Wander across the horse ring to the Main concourse and right next to the specialty food exhibit is Rhinebeck Bank's "Distinctly Dutchess and Best of the Hudson Valley Pavilion". Sweets, olive oils, vinegars, a plethora of wine tastings by the Wine and Food Festival folks, Hudson Valley Magazine, Battenfeld's Anemone and Tree Farm, and a general store of locally made crafts are just some of the dozens of local businesses participating in this unique presentation.
The Dutchess County Fair opens each day, August 21-26 at 10am. For information on admission and a daily schedule go to www.dutchessfair.com.