By John Hacker
Globe Staff Writer
ANDERSON, Mo. - The local county fair is usually the culmination of months of hard work, and this weekend's McDonald County Fair is no exception. The 29th annual event begins today east of McDonald County High School in Anderson.
For Rachel Haase, 15, and her brother, Matthew, 12, both of Bethpage, five months of work will come to a head Saturday during the cattle shows, but the two have different reasons for participating.
Rachel, who is showing a 2-year-old Jersey dairy cow at the fair, said she "just loves everything about the fair."
"It's definitely my favorite time of year," she said. "I love meeting people and playing with the animals. The people at the fair are always willing to help. Last year was my first year to show, and everyone was willing to help me and give me advice."
For Matthew, who is showing a crossbred Red Angus-Gelbvieh beef cow, the fair is a business opportunity for a budding entrepreneur.
"I used to go to have fun, and it is a good place to have fun and pet all the animals," Matthew said. "Last year I started showing with ducks and got a grand champion and a reserve champion. After this year's fair, I'll sell the cow and get some calves. Then I'll be able to sell them and get more calves."
Jamie Haase, Rachel's and Matthew's mother and an employee at the McDonald County Extension Office, said training the cows to accept a halter was more work than even she expected.
"With some animals, when you put them on a halter they are like a fish on a hook and they'll pull and fight the halter," Jamie Haase said. "Then you reach a point where they are angry, and while you are on the lead rope, they will ram you. The Red Angus cow was tough to break, but the Jersey was the opposite. She was like a dog and almost too tame."
All of the 600 to 800 exhibitors have been working for months to get everything ready for the fair.
"This is a big event for the youth of the county," said extension agent John Hobbs. "It gives them a chance to show off the results of at least a year of hard work. Kids learn responsibility as they learn how to take care of their animals, prepare them for show and learn how to provide proper rations. It's all about responsibility."
The fair begins at 11 a.m. today with a scarecrow contest. The three-day fair has events for many different tastes.
People with only a passing interest in animals can enjoy the Midwest Amusements Carnival or the special singing every night. There are home arts and sciences contests involving making clothes, creative crafts, ceramics, photography, and other arts and sciences, and horticulture contests for growing flowers and vegetables.
The McDonald County Fair Queen and Princess will be crowned at 8 p.m. today at the show arena.
Livestock shows and judging will take place all day Friday, and a youth tractor show will cap off the day from 6:30 to 9 p.m. A Showmanship contest, the Tiny Tot contest, a tractor-driving contest, a turtle race and livestock sales will be held on Saturday.
By John Hacker