Before Nicole Carson could walk or talk, she was already following her family’s footsteps by showing dairy cattle every year at the Washington County Agricultural Fair.
For months, Carson has been preparing her cattle for the fair with her uncle, Bruce Carson. As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, Carson, 20, of Coal Center, remembers growing up surrounded by her animals, family and camping on the fairgrounds for the full week since she was a baby.
“My first show was when I was a month old,” Carson said. “We take cattle every year together. It’s become such a bonding experience with my family that we talk about what we need to do to get prepared for the show months in advance.”
The fair runs from today through Saturday at the county fairgrounds. Fair Board President Todd Richards said he’s looking forward to seeing the annual 70,000 people come out.
“We can only hope to have favorable weather this year so everyone who comes out gets to enjoy every minute,” Richards said. “We always have a great time with friends and family.”
Kelsie May, a singer from the television show “The Voice,” will be performing today. Richards said he’s excited to see her performance.
“She’ll be performing right after our very own Scott Shelby, which I, for one, can’t wait to see,” Richards said.
Here are the daily sponsors for the fair:
Sunday, Aug. 11: Makripodis Olive Oil Day
Monday, Aug. 12: Bioni Industries Day, Senior Day $3 admission
Tuesday, Aug. 13: Log Cabin Fence Day
Wednesday, Aug. 14: Range Resources Day
Thursday, Aug. 15: Murphy Family Day and Hapchuk Day
Friday, Aug. 16: Ambulance and Chair Day, Children 12 & under $5 admission
Saturday, Aug. 17: Waste Management Day
A detailed schedule of all fair events can be viewed at washingtonfair.org or the fair’s Facebook page.
Even though Carson recently aged out of being able to show cattle, she still plans to go every year. When she was a teenager, Carson became close friends with other kids who were showing animals in the livestock contests.
“We all grew up together, so we became really close. We used to camp out the entire week at the fairgrounds,” Carson said. “Even now, we’re all still close, so we keep in contact as much as possible.”
In 2016, Carson was named the Washington Dairy Princess, the third in her family to receive the award. Her great-uncle Clyde Robison was the fair board president for several years.
“The fair has taught me so much about winning and losing in life and how to handle it,” Carson said. “My family and I are all so passionate about our animals, so we love bringing them out.”
Amber Cooper, 34, of Washington, is helping her 8-year-old daughter, Emma Redd, show pigs for the first time this year.
“It taught me so much growing up,” Cooper said. “Now that my daughter is able to show I can’t wait to see how she does. She can handle herself, hold her own and knows how to treat the animals, so I know she’s going to do great.”
Cooper first started coming to the fair with her parents when she was a toddler. Over the years, she has shown rabbits, chickens, turkeys and pigs, but her favorite to show were her horses.
“It’s always been a huge part of my life. I just remember being so excited as a kid to do this every year that it became like my summer vacation,” Cooper said. “We love being able to talk about the animals and how to handle them with everyone else. We just want everyone to come out and learn about them; that’s the entire point of animal showing.”
Katie Crouch, 18, of Canonsburg, enters her artwork and photography into the art and crafts contests.
“When I was little I couldn’t fall asleep so I used to watch Bob Ross videos to get tired,” Crouch said. “I started drawing in the third grade and haven’t stopped.”
Crouch, who has been entering her artwork every year since 2013, used her love for art and turned it into a major at Champlin Pittsburgh College. She plans to study graphic design in the fall.
“In high school, I competed in a competition for graphic design and won first place with some friends. It was great and taught me more about my art skills,” Crouch said.
Fair hours are from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. all week. Daily admission is $10, which includes shows, entertainment, petting zoo and free parking at the various fairground lots. Rides open at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. all other days. Children 4 and younger who do not want to go on rides are admitted free.
Visitors can get weekly passes for $30, but that does not include rides.