WILMINGTON – Although the Clinton County Fair’s poultry barn may appear less active this year, it still promises to be energetic as fair planners have explored alternatives and come to a decision regarding this year’s poultry shows.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture recently announced the cancellation of all live poultry shows in Ohio due to an outbreak of highly contagious avian flu that has hit many states, decimating bird flocks around the country.
While there have been no confirmed cases of avian flu in Ohio, David T. Daniels, director of the ODA, recently said the decision was largely preventative.
“We felt that we needed to put this ban in place in order to protect not only those flocks, but also to protect the consumers,” he said, “to make sure that they have got the products that they’re used to putting on their plates, in their homes every day.”
As a result, fair planners around the state have been scrambling to work around the ban or provide alternatives for those who have already begun raising poultry projects.
Justin Holbrook, former chair and longtime member of the Clinton County Junior Fair Poultry Committee, told the News Journal the committee decided to change the definition of a completed poultry project for this year.
Participators will now participate in quality assurance, which Holbrook said focuses on hands-on learning about care and how to raise a poultry project; participate in a skillathon, which which will be held at the fair; make educational posters about their project; participate in an interview with a judge; and participate in showmanship.
Holbrook said participants must complete those five requirements in order to participate in the market sale at the end of the fair.
“We’ve encouraged all of them to continue to raise their projects … get it to a marketable size and age and harvest it according to how they normally would — they’re just not going to be bringing it to the fair,” he said.
Holbrook said the ODA’s announcement was surprising, but not a complete shock.
“I don’t think it was expected, but we knew we got a really good idea that when Michigan, Kentucky, New York, when all those states canceled their shows, we kind of thought Ohio was going to follow suit,” he said. “We were meeting and talking … we were a few days into our conversations, saying, ‘Hey, guys, this might happen.’”
Holbrook said he believes the local impact of the ODA’s decision will be educational.
“I think with a lot of the backyard poultry flocks that we have in Clinton County … the reunderstanding and the thought that we’re now going to start thinking more about biosecurity … we’re going to be paying closer attention to our flocks. We won’t be co-mingling, we won’t be moving birds. When push comes to shove, some of those things become lax. I think avian flu will push all of our producers to think, ‘how do we protect ourselves?’ … In terms of meat production, we would have had over 1,000 birds come to the fair.
“The poultry building will be different, in that it’s just not going to be as lively as it has been,” Holbrook concluded. “But with the events, the educational posters, there is still going to be some energy there.”
The Clinton County Fair will be held July 11-18.
Reach David Wright at 937-556-5770, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.