Youth exhibitor Maria Burger, age 18 from Licking County, has been showing animals for 11 years. She currently works with goats, chickens, market lambs and market hogs. Maria begins preparing her animals for the Fair the day she receives them and works with them day in and day out.
“I have to form a relationship with the animals so they trust me. Trust is very important in order for the animals to behave in the arena in front of the judges,” she says.
Months before the Fair, Maria is spending every day with the animals – petting them, feeding them, keeping them in shape and toning their muscles. She examines her animals and understands when it’s necessary to increase or decrease their food intake.
As the Fair approaches, working with the animals becomes increasingly critical.
“I need to get the animal used to walking with me. I shear the sheep and I put baby oil on the chickens’ toes to make them red. I wash them and make them look as pretty as possible,” she explains.
When the Fair arrives, Maria’s schedule is very busy, as she competes in multiple contests. Over the months, she becomes extremely attached to her animals due to the energy and commitment she puts forth into preparing them, as well as the relationship she forms with them.
Maria says, “It’s really hard selling them at the end, but it’s also very rewarding. Ohiois known for agriculture. There is a need for meat and it’s satisfying knowing I’m contributing to that.”
Maria will continue her passion for animals when she begins studying veterinary technology at Columbus State Community College in the fall.
She commented, “It’s a lot of work and preparation, but it’s all worth it.”