There were chickens, goats and even a snake, but Thursday at the Vermont State Fair it was really all about the kids; a hands-on learning day free day for area schools.
Jim McKeon's goats were a real attention-grabber; one he hopes might spark long-term interest in an occupation he loves.
"I hope that maybe they'll take an interest and raise some goats for themselves. Get involved in 4-H or Girl Scout or Boy Scout project just to keep it going," McKeon said.
Maybe a little less educational, but no less entertaining for many, the pig race stole the show.
"You get to watch these big, huge, fat pigs just walk on the track and just stand there," said Donny Andronaco of the Benson Village School. "It's hilarious."
Thousands of kids filled the fairgrounds Thursday, but most other days, McKeon feels many fairgoers forget about the farm animals.
"Unfortunately it's turned pretty much commercial. And I'm not discrediting the fair officials or anything. It costs a lot of money to put this whole deal on," McKeon said.
But fair officials say bringing in all the rides is what keeps people's interest in agriculture going.
"It gives us monetary support for our agriculture because we are the Rutland County Agricultural Society that run the Vermont State Fair," said Charlie Brothers of the Vermont State Fair.
Brothers has been with the fair for decades. He says while there are more rides now, putting on free ag exhibits and providing feed and shelter has become expensive, though the fair does still turn a small profit.
"They don't pay to come in here," Brothers said. "We pay in premiums and award money, them. And just the hay and the feed alone is very, very expensive."
But at least for Thursday morning, the fairgoers were focused on its roots which haven't changed in 150 years.
"There's a place for everybody and I hope that some people choose farming because it's still a viable and proud occupation," McKeon said.
Sowing the seeds of farming's future with the youngest generation of Rutland county.
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