The Massac County Youth Fair starts Friday, and the barns get their first residents Friday as well. Dairy cattle and goats arrive that night for a three-day stay, before heading home and making room for beef cattle, swine and sheep.

They will be followed with smaller animals: ducks and rabbits have their time in the show ring Saturday morning, while Saturday afternoon and evening horses and ponies will fill the arena.

Later, the ring will feature dogs: dogs wearing costumes, dogs doing tricks and dogs who are just beloved pets. Cats and kittens have their turn on Friday, July 19.

The Youth Fair celebrates its agricultural roots, and nowhere is that more evident than in the livestock barns. Fairgoers get to see livestock, all washed and brushed and groomed, all trained to put their best hoof forward as their youthful owners lead them into the show ring.

The show ring is for children and youth, ages 7 to 21. And those kids and youth are ready to demonstrate their own showmanship skills as they spotlight the animals they have raised and worked with all year.

If help is needed in the show ring, an older youth age 21 or under may step in. Mom and dad, grandma and grandpa get to join other fairgoers in the bleachers to enjoy the show and cheer their favorite showman on.

All livestock are clean and trimmed and must meet state health requirements as found in the Youth Fair books. Lambs must be shorn; dairy goats must also be shown without horns, while goat wethers and meat goats may show with or without horns.

The livestock shows are about the animals, and those animals are what are judged for ribbons and premiums. However, at the end, the youth who are showing the animals get a chance to demonstrate their ability to present their livestock in the best possible light in the showmanship classes.

For more information about entering livestock, or any other questions about Massac County Youth Fair, see a Youth Fair book or call 524-7203.

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