BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Blueberry, Coconut, Lemon and Mango are among the dozens of sheep bleating in the barn at the Lucas County Fairgrounds this week as they await their turn in the arena.
The fruitfully named sheep belong to 11-year-old Joe Ryan, a member of the Monclova Plowboys 4-H Club who also is showing his pigs, Raspberry and Watermelon. Joe’s older sister, Jocelyn, brought lambs as well, and she was hanging out in the barn with friend Vivian VonLehmden before the opening parade on July 11.
“You need to put this on them to keep them protected from club lamb fungus,” said Jocelyn, as she put a coat on Oliver. Lambs are part of the family business, and she’s learned a lot in the eight years she’s been showing.
“People think lambs are smelly and uncooperative, but they’re so much more than wool,” said Jocelyn. While she cares for Oliver, she knows he’ll someday make a tasty lamb chop or gyro meat.
“I think lamb is pretty good,” agreed Vivian, who said she finds being around the livestock to be therapeutic.
The trio from Monclova Plowboys is among 170 youths from 11 clubs in Lucas County participating in the fair, said Jess Soffee, Ohio State University Extension educator in charge of 4-H Youth Development.
“This is where youths take the projects they’ve been working on all year and show it off – and the life skills they’ve learned along the way,” she said.
The livestock shows are operated through the Lucas County Agricultural Society, and members of Scouts, 4-H and FFA can participate. One of the rules is that the animal must be raised in Lucas County. For those living in municipalities that prohibit certain animals, that can be a challenge.
“We strongly encourage small animals – it doesn’t have to be a cow,” she said.
While the 4-H groups like Providence Profitable Producers and Monclova Plowboys focus on steer, pigs, lambs and other livestock, others, like the Broncos, Silver Spurs and Toledo Twisted Tack are heavy into horses.
Three area teens recently returned from the National 4-H Shooting Sports Championships in Neb-raska. Monclova teen Croix Lomont was recognized during the opening ceremony for his role in his team’s performance with air rifle – breaking two state records. Cousins and Broncos 4-H members Emma Lemert and Ashlynn Jones competed in the recurve, a type of longbow. While they didn’t break any records, both say it was a good experience being among the 28 Ohioans to compete for the first time in three years.
Chris Anderson, who leads the Sharp Shooters – made up of 4-H members of various groups – said he’s been rebuilding a team to replace those who aged out during the canceled 2020 competition and a 2021 event that Ohio didn’t attend.
“We had some good finishes this year. I think it went well considering we’ve been at a stop,” said Henderson, who is a muzzle loading instructor. Team members also competed in air rifle, archery and other events.
Emma’s interest in archery was sparked by seeing her brother try it – then she did, too.
“I fell in love with it,” she said.
Ashlynn comes from a hunting family and was told she could join on the hunt if she learned to shoot. Instead of firearms, she opted for a bow, and the course at nationals – despite the 40-mph winds – gave her confidence.
Croix first learned about shooting sports while showing another 4-H project a few years ago.
“They had a booth at the stucco building, and you could try it. I did pretty well,” he said.
This year’s fair gives visitors an opportunity to see what all of the youth programs have to offer, said Lucas County Agricultural Society board member Diana King. Thursday, July 14 is Kids’ Day, with programs from Imagination Station, the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Girl Scouts of America, Keep Toledo Lucas County Beautiful and the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.
Babyland is also open from noon to 8:00 p.m. through Saturday, said volunteer Bryanna Geoffrian, and features baby goats, calves, bunnies, chicks and kittens.
For more information about fair activities and events, visit www.lucascountyfair.com.