By Michelle Miller The Cooperstown Crier
---- — Striped tents will soon be up at the Iroquois Farm Showgrounds as a local tradition continues.
The Farmers’ Museum 66th annual Junior Livestock Show will start Sunday. According to organizers, the three-day event will bring together the areas best livestock and youth exhibitors from a nine-county region. More than 250 youth handlers and 750 animals are expected to participate.
According to coordinator Meg Preston, the show has grown over the years as well as moved to several locations since it’s inception in 1947.
Stephen C. Clark Jr. established The Farmers’ Museum cup to give to 4-Hers showing at the Otsego County Fair in 1947, Preston said. The following year, she said, a show was held on the museum’s grounds where the carousel is now.
“I believe it was just a one-day show then,” she said.
Preston, who grew up in Cooperstown, said she remembers going to watch the show across the road from the museum near the lake as a child. She said she was not sure when it was moved.
“I believe it was in the early ‘80s when it got moved to its current site (the Iroquois Farm on county Route 33 south of Cooperstown), “she added.
Since 1947, The Farmers’ Museum has collaborated with the Cooperative Extension’s 4-H program to produce the show, which is the second largest youth competition in New York state. The event tests the skills of youth handlers ages 8 to 18 who present animals (dairy cows, beef, swine, dairy goats and sheep) that they own, care for and have prepared for competition.
There are other shows that are smaller that a lot of the children participate in, according to Preston. However, she said none quite compare to the junior show because there is no fair atmosphere and it is all about the youth taking responsibility and preparing their animals for show.
“It is a great start for the summer and to prepare the youngsters for other shows,” Preston said. “A lot of families say it is their favorite show because their kids get to meet other kids from other counties. Many of these kids only get to see one another once a year at this event.”
Garet Livermore, vice president of education at the museum, said the Junior Livestock Show is where the ideals of 4-H are put into practice and where people can see the future of farming.
“The show is a culmination of months and months of hard work by the youth exhibitors raising and caring for their animals. The feeling of camaraderie at the show is contagious,” he said.
At last year’s show 15-year-old Avery Schneider of Cherry Valley showed a goat she won through the 4-H Earn-an-Animal program. The animal’s name she said was Koza —meaning goat in Polish. Schneider said she chose Koza because of the rareness of the breed and its conformational qualities.
When Schneider became interested in goats she discussed the possibility of getting one with her parents.
“So we went and visited a farm,” Schneider recounted. “It was June Baker’s. We talked to her a little while when we were there and she told us about her 4-H group.”
Schneider then became a member of Baker’s Otsego Dairy Goat club.
The Junior Livestock Show will begin at 5 p.m. Sunday with a chicken barbecue for the public and show exhibitors. The cost for the dinner is $10 per person. An ice cream social, also open to participants and the general public, free of charge will be held at 7:30 p.m.
On Monday, July 8 at 9:30 a.m., judging begins for animals and showmanship classes, which test the handler’s ability to present their fit and well-groomed animals in the way that best shows off their conformation. At 5 p.m. the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health will lead a discussion on tractor safety. Prizes will be awarded at 6 p.m. for the best posters displayed in the visitor tent in the 24th annual Farm Safety for Kidz Poster Contest.
On Tuesday, July 9, judging will begin at 9 a.m. At 2:30 p.m., the grand champions in the dairy, beef, dairy goat, sheep and swine divisions will join the winners of the F. Ambrose Clark Livestock Trophy, The Farmers’ Museum Cup and The Farmers’ Museum Dairy Goat Cup in a Parade of Champions.
On Monday and Tuesday, summer camps and area youth groups are invited to take a tour of the showground and participate in a take-home craft with the education staff. Reservations are requested. Call 547-1461 for more information.