WAPAKONETA — The first day of the Auglaize County Fair was a bit different than previous years.
Due to COVID-19, Gov. Mike DeWine forced all fairs in Ohio to become Junior Fairs only.
Gone were the rides and games along the midway.
There was no activity Sunday in the grandstand — but there were plenty of kids in the livestock barns getting ready to show off their projects.
Lola Thompson, a 17-year-old from New Knoxville, was preparing her sheep Angela for showing.
This is Thompson’s ninth year showing her animals at the Auglaize County Fair and was appreciative that this year’s fair didn’t get canceled due to the pandemic.
“It’s been a weird year, but I’m really glad at least that we get to show our lambs or you know all the animals so it’s not too different for me because I never really did the rides and stuff anyways, but I am thankful that we at least get to show this year,” Thompson said.
Besides learning the responsibility of taking care of her projects, she’s learned communication skills.
“I’ve met so many people doing this. We do a lot with quality assurance and stuff with like the market and stuff. So I learned a lot more with that and we have to go out and ask for sponsors too. So we have to write letters to people, and it’s just really a good experience to get out there more and get out of your comfort zone,” Thompson said.
Emma Bambauert, a 16-year-old from New Bremen, was getting her two goats ready to show.
“It’s kind of sad that we can only show our animals and that we can’t show our other special interest projects,” Bambauert said.
Raising her two goats, Zahara and Hazel, is something that’s taught her good life lessons.
“I think that teaches you respect and responsibilities for how to be with your animal and to be out in life,” Bambauert said.
Beth Miller is an extension educator, 4-H youth development for Auglaize County.
“We were thrilled that (the kids) can at least take part in some of it. They’ve worked hard and to be able to give them this opportunity was something that we were hoping we would be able to do,” Miller said.
Of course, there were some bumps in the road.
“Everything from will we have judging? Will we have a fair? Will we be doing things virtually? Will we be doing things in person? Before our fair, there was a scramble to make sure we had everything in place. So lots of challenges, but all good,” Miller said.
The fair continues through Aug. 8.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.