County Fair gives local 4-H groups a chance to shine



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Little 18-month-old Haylee got her first close up look at a baby cow at the 4-H fair over the weekend while visiting her grandfather in Belmont. Her mom said she had many fond memories of attending the fair as a child, and was glad Haylee was enjoying her first experience. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 17, 2011
BELMONT — For the boys and girls in the many 4-H groups around the state, their days are filled with school, chores, projects, animal care and meetings. Sometimes, written proposals about their endeavors are required to be an active and successful member of the national organization.

But every summer, they get to take time out for some fun as they proudly display the result of their labors at the Belknap County 4-H Fair, held this past weekend at the fairgrounds in Belmont.

Among the many reaping the rewards of the weekend were Jay and Katie Downs of Wardown Farms in Gilmanton and Loudon. The brother and sister were relaxing between two of their cows, Pecan and Starbucks, and younger members of the herd. A blue ribbon hung above Pecan's stall, and Jay held the bragging rights to her success.

"Pecan comes from a previous winner we had, and the judges liked her legs. She's only a year old, but she's big and tall," he said.

Next up for the family was a cow costume party on Sunday.

"You can dress them up like anything you want," Jay said with a smile.

The Swain family from Sanbornton enjoyed a successful weekend as well, with their livestock. Dad Matt Swain reported his children received ribbons for beef cows, horseback riding and more of the many events they were entered in.

"It's been a great weekend so far. We brought a horse, a pony, two cows, two chickens and a rabbit to show," he said on Saturday.

The fairgrounds were a beehive of activity where children could play games, enjoy crafts or admire the hundreds of dogs, rabbits, sheep, goats and other animals on display, including a petting farm for the little ones. Bands played country and bluegrass music, and food stands were everywhere. Equestrian competitions, oxen pulls, and even model airplane shows also kept everyone entertained.

Inside the big exhibit barn were homegrown vegetables, antique tools, and plenty of other items for visitors to admire. Classes in canning, pottery making, and other traditional practices were also held throughout the two days.

Advertising director Sherrie Bellerose was full of praise for the families who took part in the fair, and for the volunteers who coordinated the two-day event. Buildings were newly painted, and the grounds were freshly mowed ahead of time to prepare for the weekend.

"Fran (Wendleboe) did a fantastic job this year as director. She worked countless hours getting the grounds looking good and readying everything for the weekend. She was a real bulldozer in getting things done; just the breath of fresh air this fair needed," Bellerose said.

Attendance was down somewhat this year, but Bellerose said there were many other events in the state that may have affected those numbers. Overall, she said, it was a very successful weekend, one which they hope to build upon in the future.

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