New small animal barn at Clay County Fair

Fairgoers at the Clay County Fair will be able to have up-close interactions with poultry such as chickens in the new Farm Nutrients Small Animal Barn located on the south end of the grounds.

SPENCER—The smallest creatures at the Clay County Fair will be showcased in a new space this year.

Exhibitors entering poultry and rabbits will have their animals on display in the new Farm Nutrients Small Animal Barn, located on the south side of the fairgrounds in Spencer.

The facility previously was used for the fair’s Ag Marketplace commercial exhibit and before that was the Innovation Pavilion, where local entrepreneurs could display new products.

“We really felt like it was time to provide adequate space for the most rapidly growing area of our 4-H and FFA competitions, and that’s the small animals,” said fair manager Jeremy Parsons. “So the decision was made to completely renovate and remodel that barn into a place for that.”

The updated space will include coop and pen spaces, a show ring and an educational space where fairgoers can learn more about poultry and rabbits.

The educational area will have features such as a duck slide and informative posters about rabbits that exhibitors will create.

Parsons noted the number of exhibitors who show small animals such as rabbits and poultry has gone up by about a third during the past 10 years. One possible explanation he gave to explain that phenomenon is more families moving away from farms and into towns or small acreages.

“Obviously, those are 4-H and FFA projects that you can raise on a small amount of land or small area, so I just think it’s just some changes in our society,” Parsons said.

“They were kind of stuck in a spot that wasn’t really a true showcase for them like some of our other animals here at the fair, so it was just a chance to move them into their own space.”

Poultry and rabbits were housed in two separate facilities in past years while the show ring for the animals was in a third location. The new small animal barn will therefore eliminate the need for exhibitors to travel from one place to the other to show.

The fair also hosts open-class rabbit shows in which anyone may enter. With the new small animal barn, Parsons hoped the fair could eventually offer an open-class poultry event for competitors.

The first event that will happen in the Farm Nutrients Small Animal Barn will be the 4-H/FFA Rooster Crowing Contest at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. At noon will be the 4-H/FFA Poultry Show categories of Hy-Line Layers, broilers and the Poultry Costume Show.

The Rooster Crowing Contest finals will be held there at 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, and the 4-H/FFA Poultry Show categories of showmanship and small birds will take place at 10 a.m.

The presentation and showmanship categories for the 4-H/FFA County Rabbit Show are slated for 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, while the costume class will be 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17.

Four-H and FFA exhibitors will hop back to the small animal barn at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, for the district rabbit show.

The open-class rabbit show meanwhile is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 19.