Island County Fair goes to the animals

Nicklaus Walsh, 13, holds up his mini lop Buterscotch after showing her off to a group of young children.  - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Nicklaus Walsh, 13, holds up his mini lop Buterscotch after showing her off to a group of young children.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

The Island County Fair only spans four days, but some of the 4-H’ers prepped animals all year for the brief showing.

Before the gates opened for the year, children and adults of all ages were busy shoveling hay, sheering sheep, brushing dogs and chasing chickens in hopes that their animals would be sporting blue ribbons before the event’s end.

Leandra Reuble of the Island County Fair Board said Wednesday that the 4-H’ers will stay busy throughout the weekend as different judgings occurred on different days. She said they’re always anticipating spikes of chaos.

“It comes in spurts and hot spots throughout the event,” she said.

Reuble said this year there’s been an increase in the number of smaller animals being shown, especially rabbits and poultry, which have been steadily increasing in recent years.

“I think with the economy the way it is, people are finding smaller animals easier to manage,” she said.

Thirteen-year-old Nicklaus Walsh of Oak Harbor was among the bunny tamers setting up camp on Wednesday. He said he’d been working with his mini lop Buterscotch all year.

“You have to get her used to people,” Nicklaus said. “If she gets too stressed out, she’ll stop eating and drinking water.”

Other 4-H’ers’ animals took significantly less primping for the big weekend. Twelve-year-old Alexxis Otto of Oak Harbor and her sisters both entered pet guinea pigs for the first time this year and said they just gave the critters a quick bath before competition.

“We just thought it would be fun,” she said.

Mallory Hunt, 14, was also entering a guinea pig, but Wednesday, her focus was on her yellow lab Raini. Hunt has been a member of 4-H for eight years and has competed in the canine division the past four. She said she really enjoys the agility portion of the event.

“It gives you a chance to get to work with your dog in a way you probably wouldn’t if you weren’t in 4-H,” Mallory said. “I bathe her, clip her toenails and brush her if she needs it. It gets pretty fancy.”

Quiz bowls, animal competitions and judgings are scattered throughout today and Sunday.

Other Saturday highlights include a parade from downtown Langley to the midway beginning at 10 a.m. and the important 4-H Livestock Auction at noon in the Livestock Arena.

Also on Saturday’s agenda are Chicken Olympics at 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. and a Bob Dylan tribute band at 5 p.m.

Tomorrow, folks can look forward to watching Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth taking the midway stage at 10:45 a.m., lawnmower races at noon and the Bunyon Busters Log Show at 1 p.m.

For a full schedule of events, see

“There’s always lots to see and do at the fair,” Reuble said.


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