MINERAL WELLS- As participants gear up for the West Virginia Interstate Fair and Exposition, those raising livestock are getting ready to show their animals and to possibly make a sale.
The livestock shows during the annual fair, which runs July 16-20 at the fairgrounds on Butcher Bend Road near Mineral Wells, are always well attended by the public and by the local youth who raise and sell livestock through 4-H, the Future Farmers of America and other organizations.
Around 200 youth, ranging in age from 8 years old to 20 years old, are expected to show livestock during the fair, said J.J. Barrett, WVU Extension Agriculture agent for Wood County.
Raising these animals, showing them at the fair and selling them at the livestock sale teaches the youth life skills from responsibility and discipline in taking care of the animal to the business side of livestock. They maintain records on the animal such as the cost of feed and the prices that animals might go for at sale, he said.
''These young people have a lot of time and money invested in these animals,'' Barrett said.
At this year's livestock shows, the animals expected to be shown are around 60 market hogs, 20 market lambs, 28 commercial feed calves, 14 market steers, 23 market meat goats, 10 market turkeys, nine market pens of rabbits and 10 pens of market chickens, said Sheila Young, a fair board member.
On Sunday, from 5 to 10 p.m., there will be the weighin for junior fair livestock at the livestock area.
Young said not all the animals may make weight, under the guidelines for competition, and might not be able to compete.
Many animals showing must be raised between Jan. 1 and April 1, including hogs, lambs, feed calves and market goats.
During showing, judges will look at the animal, its condition and how well it is cared for. Control of the animal is an important part of showing.
Participants have a cane/rod they use to control the animal, make sure its feet are lined up in the front and back and to rub its belly to make sure the animal's back is straight for when the judge is examining it.
Raising livestock teaches kids about important aspects to life and how to earn a living.
''If these kids stick with their projects, many can make some money and save up for college,'' Young said.
Many kids who started out showing animals at the fair have gone on to careers in agriculture and related fields.
''It is a good learning experience for them,'' Young said.
Many of the young people showing are hoping to sell their animals at the end of the fair at the livestock sale.
The 4-H Rabbit Show will be 9 a.m. July 16 at the livestock area. The Jr. Market Sheep Showmanship program begins at 6 p.m. followed by the Jr. Market Sheep Show.
The Jr. Goat Showmanship Show and Jr. Goat Show will be Tuesday evening.
The Youth & Open Poultry Show and Showmanship program will be 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Livestock Area. The Jr. Swine Showmanship program begins at 6 p.m. with the Jr. Swine Show immediately following.
The Jr. Dairy Goat Showmanship program will begin 9 a.m. Thursday at the Livestock Area with the Jr. Dairy Goat Show, Jr. Dairy Cow Showmanship program and the Jr. Dairy Cow Show immediately following.
The Jr. Rabbit Showmanship program will be at 10 a.m. The Jr. Rabbit Show will be noon. The Jr. Beef Showmanship program will begin at 6 p.m. with the Jr. Beef Show immediately following.
The Open Beef Show will be 10:30 a.m. July 19.
The Junior Livestock Sale will be held at the Livestock Area 2 p.m. July 20.