County gets involved in state fair

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By Kenny Colston

Thousands of people will converge on the Kentucky State Fair in Louisville this week, but the annual event reaches well into Oldham County this year.

Last Friday, dozens of 4-H participants participated in the organization’s land judging competition at Waldeck Farm in Crestwood. The event has teams from various counties survey, inspect soil samples and more as an educational competition to determine the best ways to farm a piece of land, Bob Pearce, an extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, said.

Pearce, a former Oldham County resident who still has family farming in Pewee Valley, said the competition helps students with future farming careers.

“It allows us to know the best use of the land without compromising the long-term productivity,” Pearce said of the skills learned during the competition. “If we over-crop it, it won’t be useful.”

It was the competition’s second time at Waldeck, Pearce said. The competition rotates to farms surrounding Louisville to give kids different experiences each year.

“We don’t want to get repetitious so that everything is predictable,” Pearce said.

David Ditsch, the competition’s coordinator, said the competition’s reach goes further than farming.

“No matter the career, soils will be part of it,” Ditsch said. “These are very important concepts. We’re hoping to inspire a student to be interested in the natural sciences when he graduates.”

But the land judging competition isn’t the only connection to the State Fair for the county. Several people enter other competitions, including the McCall family, who live off Highway 22 near East Oldham Middle School.

David McCall has been showing beef cattle in competitions for years, he said, usually short horn and red poll cattle.

Last year, he had a bull that won the red poll competition at the fair, as well as at the North American competition later that year.

“It’s just a way to let people see what we have,” McCall said. “If you win your class or breed, it adds worth.”

McCall has been showing cattle since 1998, with quite a few winners in his 16 years. Showing at the state fair helps the cattle get used to shows and crowds for larger competitions, he said.

“They’re a lot like beauty pageants,” McCall said of the cattle shows. “We put hair spray on it, brush them… We’re trying to get them as pretty as possible.”

Cheryl McCall, David’s mother, usually enters basket weaving or cross stitch competitions, having won awards before. But she didn’t enter any competitions this year.

And Jeffrey McCall entered a country ham in this year’s competition. And while it didn’t place this time, Jeffrey has placed one before.

“It’s an opportunity to see what it’s like to compete,” Jeffrey said of the competitions. “It helps to learn to cure the ham and with the public speaking.”

And while the competitions are almost second nature to the McCalls, the goal is always the same: winning.

“We’re hoping to win in the red poll show again,” David McCall said.

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