County fairs and State Fair will host birdless 4-H projects
WILLMAR -- Usually on entry day at the Kandiyohi County Fair, 4-Hers enrolled in the poultry project carry in crates of chickens, ducks and turkeys in a flurry of squawking, quacking and flapping.
WILLMAR - Usually on entry day at the Kandiyohi County Fair, 4-Hers enrolled in the poultry project carry in crates of chickens, ducks and turkeys in a flurry of squawking, quacking and flapping.
This year those kids will be carrying posters, scrapbooks and videos of their poultry projects to the poultry barn to be judged.
The poultry showmanship - when kids are judged on how they handle their live birds - will likely be done with a toy chicken or a photograph.
Because of the avian influenza outbreak, state officials decided this spring to ban poultry from county fairs and the Minnesota State Fair.
But in order to keep the poultry project alive, the state 4-H organization encouraged counties to offer creative options for those 4-Hers to compete in on the local level, which could win them a trip to the state fair where birdless competitions will also be taking place.
“We can’t substitute for that squawking bird but we can bring in a different type of learning and a deeper type of learning,” said Brad Rugg, director of Fair and Animal Science Programs for the Minnesota 4-H program.
Some counties will have recorded sounds of clucking chickens in their 4-H poultry barn and some are inviting 4-Hers to bring photos of their chickens to put in the display cages.
Chicken BBQ contests, interviews about poultry care, quiz bowls and skill-a-thons are some of the other activities counties are doing, Rugg said.
An extra cash incentive was offered for 4-Hers to do a demonstration on avian influenza, which is part of the State Fair competition.
In Kandiyohi County, 4-Hers can bring any type of creative poultry project they want, such as a poster or scrapbook. The only requirement is that they leave the live bird at home.
The state ban on bring poultry to fairs has no deadline, but Rugg said if there isn’t another round of bird flu next spring he anticipates that live poultry will be allowed at fairs in 2016.