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Animal and Me show brings fairgoers of all abilities together

The show will be held in the Main Show Arena on Friday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. The participants and mentors will meet earlier so the mentor can advise the participant on how to handle and show the animal.

Submitted

The hard work and enjoyment of showing an animal at the fair along with the self-satisfaction of knowing you did a good job and being recognized for your accomplishments are not a reality for some people with special needs. Enter the Animal and Me show, an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to show animals, which made its debut at the Tuscarawas County Fair last year to rave reviews.
 
Michala Metzcar began the Tuscarawas County Fair show after traveling to the Erie County Fair in Sandusky to see their Animal and Me show. Metzcar was a 4-H member for 11 years and has now served for three years as an advisor for the Atwood Lakers 4-H club. While at the Erie County Fair, Metzcar met with Angie Holmes, who started the program at Erie County more than five years ago.
 
The show is designed to give individuals with special needs a chance to shine at the fair and experience what it is like to show an animal. The minimum age for individuals is 8 years old and up. Both children and adults with special needs are welcome to participate.
 
The Animal and Me show also includes volunteer 4-H members who show chickens, rabbits, lambs and goats as mentors. The participants with special needs list their preferred animal choices on the registration form from first choice through fourth.
 
Registration was conducted in August, so prior to the event, a mentor and their animal can be matched with an individual with disabilities.
 
“The mentor stays with them throughout the entire show so everyone stays safe,” Metzcar said. Participants also are advised to wear comfortable closed-toed shoes for the event.
 
The show will be held in the Main Show Arena on Friday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. The participants and mentors will meet at 5:30 p.m. so the mentor can advise the participant on how to handle and show the animal and other basic facts.
 
When the show begins, the mentors and participants will parade around the show ring with the animals for the judges. A judge will visit each participant and ask them questions about what they have learned at the event.
 
“Everyone gets recognized with a showmanship ribbon,” said Metzcar, adding that organizers come up with some creative awards like Egg-static Chicken Shower. Eighteen people with special needs participated in the show last year.
 
Feedback from the show has been all positive. “The parents loved it and liked that their kids got a chance to show an animal. The mentors had a blast and enjoyed being with the participants, and the participants wanted to come back and do it again the next day,” Metzcar said.
 
Look for added entertainment this year. “One participant likes to make animal sounds and wants to get on the microphone to make animal sounds for the crowd,” Metzcar said.
 
Take a break from the day, grab some delicious fair food and have a seat in the Main Show Arena to watch all the fun at the Animal and Me show.
 

Published: September 13, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170919991