Butler County Fair dad talks about benefits of raising animals for fair competition

Butler County Fair draws crowd despite heat

It was already sweltering Sunday morning when the Butler County Fair opened, but the fairgrounds was teeming with people.

Wrestling his pig with no name back into its pen after the swine showmanship competition, 16-year-old Branden Wright of Hanover Twp. said he has been showing hogs at the fair since he was five. He has always shown pigs at the fair and this hog goes nameless for a reason.

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“I don’t like to get attached to ‘em, it is not as much a pet then,” he said.

His dad Michael said participating in the fair gives his three kids important life lessons. He and his wife actually met at the fair and they come every year.

Phoebe Holland and bunny Leroy won besdt of breed at the Butler County Fair on opening day Sunday.
Photo: Staff Writer

“The fair is just so important for these kids. It teaches them responsibility, the fact that they have to get up early in the morning and work with their animals, feed ‘em, water ‘em, wash ‘em, take care of them,” he said. “It’s just a great experience for them, not only for this time in their life but also to develop those skills that they’ll need in the future.”

There was a close call for the fair this year after a dangerous storm hit Thursday afternoon, toppling trees and tents and tipping over rides. About 150 volunteers jumped right in and put everything back together by Friday morning.

“Immediately there were so many people that just jumped in, with their trailers and their chainsaws,” Wright said. “By the time we left here really with the exception of some of the tents that were blown down, you could hardly tell that anything had happened.”

Phoebe Holland, 18, of Trenton won the best of breed with her bunny Leroy on Sunday. She said she has been showing bunnies at the fair for several years and this isn’t her first win, she won with a senior doe four years ago. She and her mom have a rabbitry business together called Watership Rabbitry.

Braden Wright with his no-named pig at the Butler County Fair opening day Sunday.
Photo: Staff Writer

“So if we are breeding and we get a nice looking junior or just a nice rabbit in general we’ll take them to the fair, but he (Leroy) has been with me every single year,” she said.

The fair isn’t all about animals either, several women had the enviable job of judging the Fine Arts exhibits in the air conditioned event center. Sonia Lightfield, superintendent of Fine Arts, said they have age-group and other classifications for the entries.

“I think there’s a lot of talented people out there…,” she said. “Our photography is just phenomenal. Just last year we added a class just for the Butler County Fair.”

One Okeana mom ducked into the air conditioning for a break from the heat — her kids raise chickens — and she summed up the fair with one word: community.

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