Team offers advice, rules to fair exhibitors

Youth representative Lizzie Rhodes, second from right, reminds a crowd of Shenandoah County Fair exhibitors and their families about the expected code of conduct at the Sunday evening open meeting. Other representatives are, from left, Tracy Barb, Bethany Gochenour and Tiffany Heishman. Rachel Mahoney/Daily

WOODSTOCK – Most kids who show animals at the Shenandoah County Fair have enough to contend with between finishing and taking care of their animals, but members of the 4-H FFA youth representative team have extra responsibilities.

The four representatives helping out this year are Tracy Barb, Tiffany Heishman, Bethany Gochenour and Lizzie Rhodes. Sunday evening at the fair, they performed one of their yearly duties — giving an introduction to participating kids and their families at the open meeting by reviewing the rules and changes at the fair shows.

Before organizing pick-up of participant T-shirts and goodie buckets on Sunday, the representatives announced new restrictions for exhibitors and their families using ATVs and golf carts while preparing at the fair. They then gave their peers a few friendly reminders about dress code, housekeeping and personal conduct.

They’re representatives in the truest sense: their fellow exhibitors listening to them from the bleachers elected them on two-year rotations to serve as mediators between them and the adults on the show committee.

Heishman and Gochenour brought their experience in fitting shows at other locations to the fair this year in the form of a less formal fitting contest – a much-requested optional opportunity on Friday for teams of exhibitors to visually prime their animals.

Heishman said, “A lot of us wanted a chance to show what we could do, so that’s a different way to do it.”

With more programming comes more responsibilities, and Barb said that this year has meant juggling a long checklist and keeping lots of deadlines in mind.

The representatives spent many a long night before the fair recruiting exhibitors to help them prepare the show arena: from laying down the mulch to cleaning the bleachers to setting up the various curtains and banners. While they’re able to focus on preparing their own animals for the ring during the shows, they help out the adult committee when posible  by handing out awards.

Their fair schedule can get a bit hectic at times with running back and forth, but as Gochenour said, “it’s just good time management.”

After the fair ends on Sunday, it’ll be back to work breaking down and cleaning out the show pavilion. Later, they’ll look over the results and send out surveys to exhibitors to figure out what can make things go smoother next year. And around October, they’ll conclude the business at this year’s fair and start making the transition into preparing for next year’s.

Barb said laughingly, “It still doesn’t really end, it just keeps going.”

They’ll start out preparations by reaching out to novices and giving advice to some second- or third-year veterans. In the months before summer, they also get in touch with local businesses to help connect them as livestock buyers with the exhibitors.

Barb said they can develop a bit of a love-hate relationship with their duties since the fair always lands on the week before school and marks the end of their summer.

“I don’t think it cuts it short though, because I enjoy fair week a lot,” Heishman said.

Although they have to balance their fair time in between duties, they say being a representative is a rewarding way to go a step further with showing before they can no longer take part at the fair.

Barb said, “It’s definitely challenging…it kind of didn’t sink in how much we really do until I was on the board.”

Rhodes added, “And people don’t really usually realize how much it is that we put into it until they are on it.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com