Livestock Barns Full Of Big Stars

September 20, 2004 – Posted at 1:02 p.m. CDT

NEA DISTRICT FAIR/JONESBORO -- One of the biggest attractions at the NEA District Fair isn't the rides, or the games or even all of that great fair food. It doesn't smell all that great, but it is always fun to look at, it's the livestock.

The fair is a good opportunity for kids and adults across Region 8 to get a closer look at livestock. The roosters were crowing and the cows were coming home Monday morning as the fair began. You might not think of a livestock barn as being a hot spot, all the action in Region 8 is happening at the barnyard.

There's no red carpet but there are plenty of stars. The hay is full of competition and one of the biggest contenders this year is 10-month old heifer named Fancy. Fancy is from Searcy, Arkansas, and this is her first year in the contest.

Fancy's owner and cattle farmer Jerry Cox said Fancy has some stiff opponents, "The competition looks pretty tough."

Jerry and his wife Carolyn have been showing animals for nearly 20 years, and they can attest, it sure isn't easy teaching a new cow old tricks. Showing livestock can be a time consuming and rewarding experience. The Cox family has seven cattle in the fair this year, and they say it's a good way to learn about life lessons.

Carolyn said, "Kids who grow up with animals learn the responsibility of taking care of them and all of the enjoyment. They also learn how to deal with the sorrow of the loss in the show ring."

"It keeps your children where you know where they are. And it keeps them busy. They learn good work habits," said Jerry.

"They have to be fed a certain way, you have to train them to work on their halter, and how to lead and everything. It's a day to day process," said Carolyn.

Having a bit of a competitive edge helps. "It's a lot of work, but we enjoy it," said Carolyn.

But the fair isn't just for cowpokes. The Northeast Arkansas Fair has plenty of fowl friends, including chickens, roosters and even rabbits. And the real stars of the fair agree, it's always important to look your best.

Fortunatly, Fancy hasn't shown any signs of stage fright yet. "Not since we took her off the donkey," laughed Jerry. So what does that mean? Taking off the donkey means when cattle are getting ready to learn how to be shown, owners use a donkey to break them to lead. Owners tie a donkey and the calf together and this helps the calf learn to become more comfortable.

There are plenty of opportunities to check out the livestock this year at the fair. Judging starts Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. with the dairy cattle. At 9:00 a.m. judging starts for rabbit and poultry, and at 1:00 p.m. for goat & beef cattle. The Junior Open shows start on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. with the swine, and continues at1:00 p.m. with sheep and 3:30 p.m. with dairy goat. Friday continues with the Junior Open show at 9:00 a.m. with the beef cattle.