There is no midway at the Loudoun County 4-H Fair, no Ferris wheel or bumper cars, but it doesn't matter. The kids make their own kind of fun.
This year several of them dressed up their animals and themselves and entered the Animal-Owner Look-Alike Contest.
"He plays second base," 10-year-old Troy Sacquety of Hamilton said about his lamb. Sacquety had outfitted his lamb with a Pirates' baseball shirt, a baseball cap that hung under his woolly chin and a glove, tied to a piece of twine twisted around the lamb's middle. "No, he doesn't hit too well," said Sacquety, also dressed in baseball duds.
Sacquety's older brother, Grant, ended up taking first prize in the contest by wearing a sheepskin over his blue jeans to look like his ram rather than trying to get the animal into an outfit. "I just thought it would be easier," Grant said.
Kathy McComb, a 12-year-old from Purcellville who has a reputation with the other 4-Hers as "always doing real well with her calves," dressed her Holstein calf, Fascination, in church-going clothes, complete with bonnet. Kathy herself had on a pillbox hat and one of her grandmother's dresses.
"These are our Sunday clothes," Kathy said as she fed Fascination cheese snacks while waiting to hear if they won. "She's spoiled rotten, but she's real sweet."
"Kathy won 'best udder' with one of her calves this morning," said 13-year-old Jennifer Colbert, watching as McComb went to claim a third-place ribbon. "She's been up since early this morning showing her animals, but she still wanted to do this."
For these Loudoun County youths, the annual 4-H fair is a chance to get together, show off their animals and "have one big party," said Terry Upshaw, an 11-year-old from Purcellville.
They rise early to wash and brush their animals, practice commands and get themselves ready for show time. The animals are judged on their appearance, quality and obedience and the youths are judged on how well they control the animals and present themselves.
So after a hard day in the ring, the young people look forward to a chance to spoof the serious judging.
"This is a preppie cow," said one dark-haired girl, who had draped her pet calf with a pink-and-green blanket with a large alligator pinned to the side. She wore a matching pink-and-green skirt with an alligator shirt. The spectators in the first row moved out of the way as the calf backed away from the judges.
David Franklin led shy Anne, a cow dressed like a maid, up to the front. He was outfitted in a butler's uniform and said he was also planning to enter Anne in the Prettiest Cow Contest later in the fair.
Christine Clark had nylon stockings stuffed with newspaper dangling from her ears and a choke collar around her neck. Her dairy goat, with her own goat-ears drooping, looked confused by all the commotion around her. "No, nobody ever said I looked like her," her owner said with a laugh. "That's why I have these ears on." Their resemblance won them fifth place.