SMITHFIELD - Presently the Jefferson County Junior Fair small animal barn stands deserted but it's full of activity leading up and through the August fair and in the spring and fall when rabbit shows are held.
The need to house meat and fancy chickens, meat and fancy rabbits, ducks and turkeys is increasing each year and a new caging system is needed, according to Chris Molinaro, one of the Friends of the Small Animal Committee's co-chairmen.
"We looked at the numbers of animal projects we had in the barn this year and it has increased greatly over last year. There were upwards of 100 rabbits to be caged, a 4-H project that has grown because it is costly to raise a large animal project," Molinaro said.
NEW ENCLOSURES PLANNED — A 4-H member stands before a judge determining the status of the youngster’s chicken project at the Jefferson County Fair last August. New enclosures will prevent animals and humans from getting cut on the rusty cages and better distribute the animals that seem to increase each year. -- Esther McCoy
"Turkey projects have expanded. Two years ago we had six turkeys and this year it was 17. There was one pen of ducks in 2012 and eight this year. This seems to be the growing avenue for youth because it is less costly to maintain them," she said.
"The Friends of the Small Animal Committee was formed to raise funds for purchasing new rabbit and chicken cages that are needed, as the present ones are at least a decade old and quite rusty, being a danger for animals and those who take care of them by getting cut," Molinaro explained.
"The committee's goal is $10,000, and thanks to a list of donors, we have raised over $4,000 so far. One of the ways we are raising money is through sponsors. A $50 donation is a silver sponsor; a $100 donation is a gold sponsor; and $200 or more donation is a platinum sponsor. The organization or individual's name will be displayed on a sign which will be mounted on the wall outside of the small animal barn at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in 2014," she said.
The committee is planning a pizza fundraiser with Giannamore's Pizza on Jan. 18. Giannamore's will donate 10 percent of all sales for that evening, it was noted.
"Those wishing to help with the fundraiser or do a sponsorship can do so by contacting me or Marlene Lamantia, co-chairmen. Rick Shell is the fair board member and there are volunteers from different clubs as well," Molinaro told.
"Donnelle Tonner and her committee did major improvements throughout the years but over time, it was hard to keep up," Molinaro said.
Jim Means - father to Hannah Means who has had rabbit projects in 4-H in the past and now serves as a judge - has been going to different shows to see what is done. Cages for the fancy and meat rabbits are more specialized and can be exchanged if there is more of one species on different years. The cages are on wheels and can be moved or taken outside for a complete cleaning. The committee plans to have the cages two units wide and six units high, it was noted.
"Some of the fundraisers we have had in the past have been the sale of T-shirts and rabbit shows in fall and spring. There will be others on the horizon," Molinaro said.
Checks can be made out to the Jefferson County Fair Board and sent to Chris Molinaro, 357 Woodridge Drive, Wintersville, OH 43953. For information, contact Molinaro at (740) 632-5902 or Marlene Lamantia at (740) 632-1518.