Poultry is back on display at The Great Frederick Fair, after a temporary ban between Aug. 25, 2015, and June 30 amid avian flu fears from migrating waterfowl.
Nancy Carlisle, 56, the poultry and rabbit barn superintendent, has been with the fair for six years. She is happy to see chickens and ducks back at the fair this year, giving schoolchildren the chance to get up close with the birds.
The fair scrambled last year to arrange a one-day show for the 4-H clubs, so that kids could showcase their projects. That was after the Maryland Department of Agriculture announced it would temporarily ban exhibiting poultry after Aug. 25, 2015, she said. The area was not affected by avian flu, but the Midwest had several outbreaks.
Fairgoers saw neither feather nor beak of the birds due to the avian flu concerns. Instead, the fair printed big pictures of the birds, but it wasn’t the same, said Stacey Flowers, who has owned chickens for seven years.
“It was a ghost town,” Flowers said of the barn last year.
The barn was eerily quiet, and fairgoers and chicken raisers were equally devastated by the chickens’ absence, she said. Flowers has heard several people say how happy they are to see chickens at the fair again, she said.
This year, birds are back on display for the public in the Poultry and Rabbit barn. The prizewinning fowl are also on display, including Champion Bantam, Reserve Champion Bantam, Grand Champion Show and Champion Large Fowl, all brought to the show by Mary Ellen Arbaugh.
On Tuesday, Carlisle explained duck breeds and facts to Frederick County Public Schools students who were riveted watching ducklings climb a ramp, stretch their necks out for a bucket of food and slip down the slide into the pool below.
The barn, near the fair’s entrance, is a living classroom and was expected to have about 4,400 students pass through it on Tuesday alone, she said.
Many Frederick County classrooms hatch chickens each year and pick one to send to the fair, Flowers said.
“It’s fun for the kids to come through and see the birds they hatched,” she said.
Kids pointed, laughed and gasped as they moved around the rows of hens, roosters, chicks, bunnies and even a peacock.
“If they learn one thing while in the barn, that’s enough,” Carlisle said.