Stark Co. 4-H’ers make the most out of the fair

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Friends and family congratulate Billy Kegley after he wins beef showman of showmen.
Friends and family hurry to congratulate Billy Kegley, 15, for winning beef showman of showmen at the Stark County Fair Aug. 29. (Sarah Donkin photo)

CANTON, Ohio — As the Stark County Fair cavy, beef and open class lamb shows run early on Aug. 29, some people are showing, some are preparing for shows and some are almost done for the year. It’s the final step after months of hard work for 4-H’ers.

• • •

In the goat barn, Wyatt, 6, and Waylon, 4, help their mother, Sabrina Rittenhouse, sweep hay out of the aisle and load it into a wheelbarrow. Rittenhouse’s daughter, Sky, 17, will show in the Aug. 30 dairy goat show with her Nigerian Dwarf goats.

The family has a total of 12 goats, which are Wyatt’s favorite part of the fair, in the barn. Wyatt proudly announces that his older cousin, Billy Kegley, 15, won beef showman of showmen that morning.

“It’s a family affair,” said Rittenhouse. “My whole family is here.”

• • •

Sidney Hawk, 15, and her miniature horse, Peanut, walk around an indoor arena in the horse barn. They are preparing for their upcoming show.

Hawk walks Peanut backwards. Dirt kicks up as she coaxes him to rear up on his hind feet, balance for a few seconds and then come back to all fours.

She praises him. That trick is one she taught him just for fun.

• • •

Malena Cybak, 15, carefully lets her market hog, Eileen, out of her pen so she can get some exercise. Cybak named the hog to fit with the ‘80s theme the junior fair picked for this year, although she waited until the last minute to name Eileen in order to avoid getting too attached.

Cybak won her market class, but this was her first year showing a hog and her second year in 4-H. Last year, she showed chickens.

“I just wanted to do something a little bigger, a little more responsibility,” she said.

Because Cybak lives in a neighborhood, she keeps her hog at a friend’s house.

Her mom grew up on a farm, and Cybak always liked animals, so she managed to get involved despite living in a town.

“I always wanted to live on a farm,” she said.

That’s why she enjoys the fair so much.

• • •

4-H’ers are working hard, in more ways than one. In the sheep barn, Alexis Monnot, 14, sits on an upside-down feed bucket in a pen with Stella and Lamborghini, her sheep, while she reads To Kill a Mockingbird.

She has some time off from school for the fair, but homework assignments wait for no 4-H’er.

Monnot, who has been in 4-H for six years, is already done showing her sheep and chickens for the year. Now, she just has to wait for the upcoming market sale.

One of the sheep looks over her shoulder as she reads. Monnot turns another page.

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Reporter Sarah Donkin is a former 4-Her and a Mount Union graduate from Columbiana County, Ohio. She enjoys playing and writing music, cooking, and storytelling in many forms. She can be reached at 800-837-3419 or sarah@farmanddairy.com.

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