Virginia State Fair to feature livestock shows
The Dairy Cattle Birthing Center is one of many livestock exhibits that will return to the fair, which will run Sept. 28 through Oct. 7 at The Meadow Event Park. That exhibit features a series of expectant dairy cows who will likely give birth during the fair’s run.
In addition, “we’ll have a beef exhibit, with about 10 cows all the time,” said Erin Henley, the fair’s newly appointed livestock manager. “Almost all of our livestock exhibits will be grouped in with the Young MacDonald’s Farm area, just east of the mansion and the agriculture pavilion.”
There are also plans for a rabbit and poultry tent in that area, which means visitors will be able to see many of the farm animal exhibits all in one place this year, Henley said. Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, a new partner in the State Fair, is assisting in recruiting livestock exhibitors.
Henley is a recent graduate of Virginia Tech’s dairy science program. Her family operates a dairy farm in Goochland County.
“I did actually stay in the barns and sleep on straw beds for the weekends when I was competing in State Fair livestock open shows while I was a student at Virginia Tech,” she said. “I had a lot of fun getting to know other people in the industry and exhibiting.”
Many fairgoers don’t realize how much time and work goes into competing in a livestock show or exhibiting large farm animals, she noted. Cows and other animals have to be transported in large and expensive vehicles. They have to be washed and groomed daily, and owners must ensure that they get enough water and feed.
“Most of the trailers probably hold about eight full-size cows, each of which can weigh between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds. So moving cattle is not a job for just a pickup truck or two.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication for farmers to bring their animals to shows.”