As of Sunday evening, the great Fall spectacle known as the North Carolina State Fair officially came to a close. Though it was a busy time academically, I found a few hours to check out the 2014 season on Friday afternoon. Since I had visited the fair last year, I thought I would repeat my experience, having fun but perhaps missing the thrill of seeing or trying something new. I was absolutely wrong!
The fair, to put it simply, is huge. Last year I spent most of my time at the Garden Show, spending over an hour looking closely at the displays and the flowers competing for the perfect shape and color. While the Garden Show was still beautiful this year, I discovered a whole new component of the fair experience: the animals.
Housed in different buildings, the fair featured different types of cows, plus a few horses, goats, turkeys, and sheep. On prime display were the youth competition winners, prized livestock that have been carefully cared for and nurtured, winning county competitions before even making it to the state level. Here, after judging confirmed the winning pigs or sheep or other animals, they were bid on by farms or businesses. The students who raised the animals collected the prize money in order to fund their own future education; one cow went for $35,000!
I was impressed. There is no way I could raise a healthy animal even now, let alone when I was in high school. It takes not only advanced knowledge of raising livestock, but also discipline and hard work. There is no taking a day off if a turkey or lamb or cow needs to be fed. And yet these high schoolers had gone above and beyond and now were rewarded by a gift for their future that they will use to continue their studies. What a great program!
Walking around the enclosure, I saw different varieties of cattle, complete with a whole row of cow-calf pairings. Calves have the sweetest faces, and they seemed nonchalant about the throngs of people moving past them ooh-ing and aah-ing. The baby ducks and chickens garnered their share of cooing as well.
Our tour of the animals at the fair ended with the rabbit house. Yes, a building full of hundreds of rabbits. Small rabbits, big rabbits, furry rabbits, floppy-eared rabbits, albino rabbits, all looking out at us pensively as we walked between the cages. I have never before wanted a rabbit as a pet, but after seeing the Angora varieties I might have changed my mind!
The fair has a bit of everything, rides, food, flowers, crafts, and animals. Since I live in a fairly suburban area near Duke’s campus, I have little opportunity to interact with the livestock that make up an important component of my everyday diet, and I have to say, it was simply so much fun to see all the different varieties of cows and sheep and horses.