WAPAKONETA — With costs rising across the board due to the recent economic squeeze, families with children raising livestock for this year’s fair season had to contribute some additional funds to get their animals ready to show. Despite the increased expenses, exhibitors at the Auglaize County Fair have not slowed down, and the annual Junior Fair has been running as strongly as ever.
The slate of Junior Fair activities at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds continued Wednesday afternoon with shows in several categories ranging from hogs to cattle, giving youth a chance to show off their animals.
Carson Schmerge, 11, showed Blazer, a Holstein steer Wednesday. He said he has been showing animals at the fair for four years now, adding that the yearly event is an opportunity to earn recognition for hard work.
“I like showing animals because it gives you something to do in the summer, and all that work gets rewarded if you win your class. It shows how much you’ve done with your animals,” he said.
Multiple fair-goers said raising animals was more expensive than ever this year. Feed costs have soared across the country, partially driven by supply chain issues caused by the war in Ukraine. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn prices reached a nine-year high this year, surpassing $7 a barrel for the first time since 2013.
Wapakoneta resident Randy Fischer, whose children showed animals at this year’s fair, also cited increasing electrical costs as a financial hurdle. But Fischer maintained that heightened costs have not dissuaded enthusiasm for this year’s fair.
“Everyone’s talking about rising costs, but it’s the funniest thing; nobody’s slowing down,” Fischer said, adding that there seemed to be higher numbers of kids showing at this year’s fair than ever before.
The continued enthusiasm this year is a testament to the importance of the annual fair to families in Auglaize County. Fischer, 42, said that he has gone to the fair every year since his birth, raising animals himself while growing up in Wapakoneta. It is now a family affair for him with his children showing animals each year.
But it is not just the Fischer family who keeps coming back; the yearly tradition has been a cherished part of the local community for decades. This year marks the Auglaize County Fair’s 170th anniversary, and Fischer pointed out that there are many long-standing Auglaize County families who come back to the fairgrounds generation after generation.
“It’s the only true countywide event we have,” Fischer said of the fair’s ability to bring Auglaize County residents together.
The Auglaize County Fair will continue throughout the rest of the week, and the Junior Fair will wrap up with the livestock sale to be hosted Friday and Saturday.