Very few of the first-day fair goers were anywhere near the Oregon State Fairgrounds when Dresen Ferschweiler was working away on her show ewe, Martha, while her Gervais FFA cohort, Katie Hanson, was taking her stubborn goat, Eeyore, for a reluctant walk.
That's the nature of the beast.
FFA and 4H exhibitors toil with their keep, putting in long hours leading up to a few shows, well before the swirl of 10s of thousands of folks pour into the Salem grounds to take in the great multitude of stimuli that is the Oregon State Fair.
Animal exhibits are a part of that, and have been for about as long as there have been state fairs.
Besides Martha, Ferschweiler showed a string of other ovines: May, Katrina, Lizzy and Buffy. Hanson as well had ovines in the mix with Miss Daisy and Simone.
"So, most of the kids who show at the county fair don't always show the same animals at the state fair. But I do," Ferschweiler explained.
The Gervais students a also chipped in to help with other livestock in the mix.
"We stay around here and help others with theirs; there're about 25 animals we help prepare for showing, (including) ours and other friends'," Hanson said.
The Oregon State Fair began Friday morning, Aug. 23, and runs through Labor Day. For many the FFA and 4H exhibits are a curious sideshow sandwiched somewhere between hair-raising rides and a plate of fried foods or elephant ears. But for the students who furnish the critters, there's a dedicated labor leading to realizing the animal exhibits.
"Yes, it keeps you just a little busy," Hanson said lightly. "I get up around 6 (a.m.) and go out and feed them. Then I go back inside and return later to (clean up) and exercise them for a couple of hours."
Ferschweiler's familiar with that routine.
"You have to get up early in the summer because they don't like to eat when it gets too hot out," she said.
That discipline is an ingrained practice.
"I've been showing here since I was 3 in open class," Hanson said, "and my sister (Ellie) is a state (FFA) officer."
Both Gervais exhibitors showed their livestock on Friday and Saturday and maintain their charges through the balance of the fair, working under the tutelage Gervais FFA advisor Megan Dilson.
"This is my 8th year here, 4th year at Gervais, but it's my first year here with Dresen and Katie," said Dilson, who showed horses as part of 4H more than a decade ago when she was a student at Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis. "I was part of 4H; I didn't even know what FFA was until I was in grad school."
She's very familiar with it now, and very supportive.
"My job here is to help the other advisors show, and otherwise just teach people about agriculture," Dilson said.
The state fair is an ideal place to learn that lesson.
If you go
What: 2019 Oregon State Fair
Where: 2230 17th St. NE, Salem
When: Began Friday, Aug. 23 and runs 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Monday, Sept. 2.
Cost: $8 for ages 12 and older; $6 for ages 6-11; $1 for seniors, ages 65 and older; free for ages 5 and younger.
Attractions wide variety that include FFA, 4H, petting zoo, live music, carnival rides, unique foods, demos and special events.
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