On day one of the state fair, the Kentucky Exposition Center was buzzing with visitors, including mules, goats, cattle, rabbits, birds and, of course, people.
The Kentucky State Fair runs Aug. 18 through Aug. 28, featuring food, rides, entertainment and some of the state’s best agriculture.
People come from all over the state to showcase livestock, crops and crafts to be judged.
Lauren Skala traveled from Bardstown’s Honey Creek Farms to show goats. She’s been showing livestock at competitions for 21 years, a family tradition she is passing on.
“My son is 3 and he shows now, so we’re a third-generation show family,” Skala said.
Growing up in the livestock industry, Skala said she hoped to pass on the work to her kids, along with the opportunities offered by showing livestock.
“4-H and FFA [Future Farmers of America] give just so many opportunities for you, even in college,” Skala said.
Those organizations provide young people in the agriculture industry with development, networking and other experiences — including state fair participation.
Future Farmers of America state president Benjamin Williams, of Bardstown, said he has learned and developed an array of useful skills thanks to FFA.
“Through this organization, I have learned great communication skills and leadership, and it really teaches you how to appreciate where you’re from and what you do,” Williams said.
FFA and 4-H co-host a youth livestock competition at the fair.
Layney Williams, of Cynthiana, was there showing a Lamancha goat named Star. It was the 9-year-old’s first time showing at the state fair, and Star took the grand champion prize for her breed.
Layney said she was excited to win, even though showing goats wasn’t her first choice.
“Well, I was gonna show horses, but I can’t, so I decided to show goats,” Layney said. The horses ended up being too big for her to show, but she was happy with the outcome.
After winning the grand champion prize and showing Star in the best-in-show competition, Layney was done competing for the day. She had plans to see some of the other animals at the fair.
Animal spotting is a popular pastime for attendees.
Lisa Arvin and her daughter Chole come to the fair every year from Oldham County. They got a chance to visit this year before Chole headed out of state for college.
“We both really just love seeing the animals, the rabbit and the chickens,” Arvin said.
Her daughter said the rabbits are by far their favorites. Another yearly draw for them is the fair food.
“You gotta take advantage of the fair,” Arvin said. “I like to be able to just try a little bit of everything, but this year I’m kinda really wanting a corndog.”
Just like the animals are a focal point for the fair, so is the cuisine.
Arlene Moorman and her husband Wallace were looking forward to getting some of their favorites on opening day.
“Mostly I try to get a combination: I try to get a corndog, candied apple,” Moorman said. “I love the funnel cakes.”
Beyond trying different foods and seeing all kinds of farm animals, Moorman enjoys the way the fair brings people together.
“It’s a pick-me-up for everybody. It’s an award for the hard work they [farmers] do,” Moorman said. “Just seeing that people enjoy and appreciate the way they have all the animals on display.”