Work begins long before fair gates open

MONROE — The grounds at the Evergreen State Fair were mostly empty but for some staff and volunteers. It was different inside the Rabbit and Poultry barn.

Dozens of roosters, bunnies and pigeons and the kids who look after them as part of local 4-H programs were a jumble of noise and commotion.

It was a hectic day for Sybil Fiedler, 15, a sophomore at Snohomish High School. She was busy moving her roosters from one cage to another, making sure they had water, food and fresh bedding.

Sybil was looking forward to the opening of the fair.

“I like to meet new people, and working with animals is amazing,” Sybil said. “You learn different things.”

In the following days, she and the rest of kids will be keeping an eye on their animals. The kids will make sure their charges have clean cages, and remove any eggs that get laid.

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Sybil plans to be at the fair from 7:30 a.m. until late at night for the first six days. It will be worth it, she said.

“There will be lots of questions to be answered and lots of animals to take care of,” she said.

And with so many animals, one of the biggest challenges at the fair is in keeping pens clean, said Sherry Stovner, superintendent coordinator for the Evergreen State Fair.

This year, visitors can see hundreds of farm animals from the various 4-H programs, which also include swine, goats and llamas, Stovner said.

There are more breeds of animals this year and their exhibits all have the goal to educate, she said.

Children younger than 18 years compete in the 4-H program held the first six days of the fair.

All animals are judged. Prize animals earn a ribbon, and a trophy and cash prizes for their owners.

Ian Fitzgerald hopes to get a fistful of blue ribbons in his last year of competing with 4-H.

He was the first one to arrive at the sheep barn. Fitzgerald shepherded his 22 sheep into different pads, by gender and age.

The Lake Stevens teen said he hopes to have fun and educate other kids about the 4-H program.

He wants to see more kids involved because he has seen a decline in sheep entries in the past couple of years.

In addition to learning about animals and their care, 4-H creates a path to pay for college through the cash prizes that can be earned from showing animals, he said.

“It’s like a full-time summer job,” Fitzgerald said.

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