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Newton County Fair lays a new event despite live chicken ban - KOAM TV 7

Newton County Fair lays a new event despite live chicken ban

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NEOSHO, MISSOURI -

When you think of county fairs you might think of fried foods and animal judging for pigs, cows, and often poultry.  But this year, Missouri's state veterinarian has asked county fair organizers to help prevent the spread of avian flu, or bird flu, by not having live chicken judging.

But some 4-H members are still part of a worthwhile event.

Looking like a "good" chicken doesn't come easy.

"A lot of our exhibitors are raising and breeding their own chickens, so that might mean that they have birds, year after year.  And they're raising that next generation, looking for the best and prettiest bird," says Jeremy Elliott-Engel, a volunteer with the Newton County Fair.

"Coming to the fair is not just about getting a blue ribbon, but it's seeing where your project has gone," says Elliott-Engel.

By project, Elliott-Engel means a bird.

Being a 4-H member includes finding out how pride follows ownership.

Elliott-Engel says, "What have you learned?  How have you improved your own animal?"

Keep those questions in mind.  We'll talk about them later in our story.

Elliott-Engel refused to let a ban on live poultry judging come in the way of teaching 4-H kids, or recognizing their work.  So he told them to put as much information as possible about their projects on a poster board.

Remember how Elliott-Engel wanted to ask kids what they've learned?

Seven-year-old Elizabeth Helm shows how this poster board project is still a success.

Helm:  "They are different colors."

Reporter: "OK, chickens are different colors."

Helm:  "Their shells are different colors."

Reporter:  "What's a 'shell'?  I'm a city boy."

Helm:  "The egg shells."

Helm also proves this reporter could use a basic lesson in Poultry 101.

When you get down to it, though. Elliott-Engel has a lesson of his own, of how there's always a way to teach.

"Not the same, but different.  And hopefully, still be valuable for those young people," says Elliott-Engel.

Newton County fair organizers say part of the reason they agreed to help prevent the spread of bird flu was because there's a chicken egg laying facility near the fairgrounds.

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