Harrison County Fair champs didn’t cheat

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SALEM, Ohio – There is no basis to rumors Harrison County Junior Fair champion livestock exhibitors cheated.

Chain of events. Animals shown at that fair were released for slaughter July 11, according to junior fair manager Don Jones.

The next day, Jones said a call came from the Ohio Department of Agriculture requesting retests on three of the fair’s six champion animals.

The animals’ initial test results were returned as presumptive positives, according to ODA spokesperson Melanie Wilt.

Wilt said the initial screening is very sensitive and will often “pick up things we’re not testing for.”

“We always retest presumptives with a more thorough test,” Wilt said.

Retest. Two animals were retested at local slaughterhouses, and one was tested at a sale barn, Jones said.

A follow-up call from ODA July 13 said all animals were in the clear, Jones said.

Wilt confirmed the animals were cleared.

No names, no alarm. Jones declined to release names or project species of those animals retested.

He also said he’s unsure whether the youths who exhibited the projects even knew of the situation.

There was no alleged misconduct and no reason for alarm, Jones noted.

“[ODA] was retesting just to be sure, that’s what they’re telling us,” Jones said.

Jones also said the retest status is no reflection of the families who showed the champions.

“When I told the three fathers [of the retest], they all said they weren’t worried and had nothing to hide,” Jones said.

“I know the families. Why would they jeopardize their entire show career over the Harrison County Fair?” Jones said.

What’s tested. The Harrison County fair follows state guidelines that require all champion and reserve champion lambs, hogs and steers undergo urine-based drug tests.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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