GRAY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Beef cattle showing finished up at the Appalachian Fair on Wednesday.
Fair officials and contestants spoke about the importance of showing animals at the fair and for the community.
Preparations for the late beef shows started an hour in advance.
“They’re putting them through the beauty parlor,” said farmer Keene Murphy. “And we’re using glues on them, which is like a hairspray.”
He traveled all the way from Georgia for the fair and says preparations start way before they get to the fair.
“Of course, it all starts at home,” Murphy said. “We started preparing them: we’ve been bringing them in every day, putting them in the cool, keeping them out of the sun, rinsing them, and growing their hair.”
Fair officials say the Appalachian Fair is not a county fair, but a regional fair, attracting people from across the region. Not only do they get the chance to compete, but they also serve an educational purpose for those not familiar with farming.
“We love bringing them through the barns and educating them on: this is where your meat comes from,” said Appalachian Fair Vice President Mike Cunningham. “It doesn’t come from the grocery store. I mean that’s where your mom and dad get it, but that’s not where it comes from. Somebody works hard every day to put that meat in the shelves.”
The Appalachian Fair also promotes education by providing scholarships to Future Farmers of America (FFA) or 4H participants to put towards secondary education. Cunningham says eligibility isn’t restrictive on hometown location.
Murphy is now helping his son show and believes in the values the fair teaches.
“It gives them such a sense of self and the responsibility put on to them taking care of an animal,” said Murphy. “And not only an animal, but a large animal. A lot of comradery is developed here for these children.”
It was Addison Alvis’s fourth time showing.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Alvis. “This is my life. This and horses, I basically do livestock for a living. This is the only thing I do.”
Every show helps people experience and share the purpose of the fair.
“I like to tell people that the Appalachian Fair is unique because our livestock barns are literally at the center of our fairgrounds,” said Cunningham. “I just think that helps educate the public, but it’s kind of a symbolism too that we keep agriculture at the center of the Appalachian Fair.”
Beef cattle move out of the buildings on Wednesday and dairy cows move in as they prepare their shows which start on Thursday.
There are still other shows going on at the fair until its last day, Saturday. Find that schedule here.