With the NCW Fair returning to Waterville this weekend, there has been a lot of talk about the entertainment that is coming to town. But there are other components of the fair that have people just as excited. This weekend will also mark the return of the 4H and FFA Youth Livestock Auction as well as the exhibits that showcase the plethora of creative talent in our area. It is these components of the fair that NCW Fair Manager Carolyn Morley says may be the most vital to the fair’s continued success.
Morley explains that fairs have an important role beyond the entertainment aspects that are often the most heavily promoted.
“The fair is not just about entertainment, it’s a large portion of education and tourism for the community. The entertainment piece is important, but the agriculture education is equally, if not more so important for our kids,” says Morley.
Preparation for the livestock auction begins well before the NCW fair. Those wishing to participate must purchase and raise the animal they wish to sell and promote their animal to potential buyers before they ever show and sell the animal at the fair. It is this process that teaches youth about the business aspect of livestock.
“These kids need to solicit people to come to the auction. You don’t just hope that somebody shows up and buys your pig, you usually have a buyer in mind. They need to do that too. They need to spread the word amongst their friends and family and places they do business to seek that support. It’s a business deal. It teaches you all the way from buying the animal to getting it sold. It’s an important piece,” she explains.
This year the auction will be held both in-person and online to accommodate those that may be hesitant to attend in person due to COVID-19. The auction portal will be on the fair’s website (www.ncwfair.org) and Morley hopes that having both models available will help both sales and add-on pledges for the animals. But, after having to utilize an online-only model last year, she is looking forward to seeing the kids get to show their animals live.
“Kids want to come and show their animals and the community wants to come and support. Our auction does incredible. We get an incredible amount of add-ons for our kids. But there’s something different about seeing that kid with their big grin walking around the arena with their pig or their steer than just doing it online,” states Morley.
It isn’t just the livestock auction that is an important aspect of the fair that is often overlooked. The exhibits also play a key role in both showcasing the talents of people in our area and help the fair earn state grant money for the following year.
“A lot of people don’t understand that the fair gets grant money from the government based off how many entries we have, how many animals, how many pictures, how many Legos. It’s all those things. So, the more people that enter an exhibit in our fair, the more money that we can get (from state grants). That’s why it’s so important for people to enter stuff in. So, go pick flowers, go bring a zucchini, bring something, and start teaching the next generation to do that. Work with them in the garden, or have them draw pictures, or take a photograph, because those things are really important to the fair,” says Morley.
Whether you come to the fair primarily for the entertainment, the food, the exhibits, or the livestock, be sure to check it all out as they are key elements of the fair and seeing it all will help you appreciate just how much this weekend’s event has to offer. The NCW Fair is August 26-29 in Waterville.