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Silvana Fair draws animals, kids and crowds from all over

Fiber goats and sheep were judged by their ability to produce fleece that can be spun into comfortable and durable garments. -
Fiber goats and sheep were judged by their ability to produce fleece that can be spun into comfortable and durable garments.
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SILVANA Animals from throughout the region were on display, and the children handling them were being judged just as much, at the 60th Annual Silvana Fair July 28.
According to Darlene Strotz, she and her fellow fair organizers not only hope to offer their casual attendees a relaxed morning and afternoon of entertainment in a small-town setting on the last Saturday of every July, but they also take seriously their role as trainers of young exhibitors of farm animals and livestock.
This is intended to be a learning fair, said Strotz, who has served as the treasurer for the fair and also supervises its exhibits of arts, crafts, flowers and vegetables in Viking Hall. Its the first fair of the season and our judges work closely with the kids to make sure they can grow and improve before the next fair they enter. Its also meant to be a learning experience for the folks who show up on Saturday, so they can become familiar with all the different animals while theyre eating and enjoying the summer day. Its a nice fair to bring your family to.
Dozens of cows, rabbits, pigs, sheep and goats were on display at this years fair, but regardless of which animals were being judged, many fair organizers agreed that the quality of the animals was a testament to the commitment of the young people who presented them.
In nearly all of the animal exhibitions, which attracted onlookers and participants from locations as varied as Arlington, Marysville, Stanwood, Snohomish and Duvall, the animals were judged according to two categories. The type competition assessed the specific physical characteristics that breeders look for in each breed of animal, while the fitting and showing competition took into consideration how well the animals handlers worked with their animals.
Because fitting and showing focuses more on grooming, showmanship and performance, its almost more of an assessment of the handlers than of their animals, in areas ranging from the young peoples knowledge of their animals to the appropriateness of their attire and the manner in which they conduct themselves.
The type competitions rely upon a much more diverse and idiosyncratic set of criteria. For example, the 39 pygmy goats on hand for the fair were measured according to their small size and stout proportions, since the pygmy goat is primarily bred to serve as a pet that can be cared for even by younger children.
For 18-year-old Alyssa Maynerd of Snohomish, this year marked her last as a showman at the Silvana Fair. As a parting prize, she walked away with overall top showman and top senior showman awards.
I wanted a horse, but my parents didnt have room or money for one, so they got me a pygmy goat instead, said Maynerd, whos shown pygmy goats for the past eight years. Theyre really sweet animals. Theyre so much fun to take care of, I could never stop. When I started, I was shy and quiet, but Ive learned to be outgoing and interact more.
By contrast, the 25 dairy goats in the neighboring stalls were expected to possess lean muscles and walk with a wider gait, since theyre not meat-producing animals and adequate milk-producing udders wont fit between narrow legs, while the fiber goats and the sheep must be able to produce fleece that can be spun into comfortable and durable garments.
Ronnie Hendrickson, a 14-year-old Arlington resident whos raised goats with 4-H and attended the Silvana Fair for the past six years, took home an intermediate top showman trophy for the dairy goats fitting and showing competition this year.
Theyre not too hard to raise, said Hendrickson, who was inspired to raise goats when he visited a goat farm at the age of 7. Its fun learning how to take care of them properly. Since you can sell their milk, theyre useful. Id like to get a Grade-A dairy license. Id like a raise animals on a ranch someday, maybe even get into cattle.
Fellow 14-year-old Arlington resident Danielle Derum estimated shes been raising pigs for the past five years and competing in fairs for four of those years. Like Hendrickson, she admitted that raising such animals is expensive and, like Maynerd, she advised her fellow pig handlers not to let themselves get discouraged when they dont do well.
If your pig acts up, stay calm, said Derum, who scored a third-place fitting and showing ribbon. Even the most well-trained pig can still act up and pigs are not easy to train.
While the pigs were directed around their show ring with large wooden canes, by young handlers who were often dwarfed by the size of their animals, many other kids felt more comfortable caring for much smaller animals.
Marysvilles Genevieve Nice, 11, won two best of breed ribbons and a junior champion fitting and showing trophy for her rabbits. She earned the novice champion trophy in last years fitting and showing competition at the Silvana Fair, even though shed only been raising rabbits for 10 weeks prior to that.
I have 27 rabbits this year, Nice said. Last year, I only had one. Ive learned so much since I joined 4-H. I have a lot more self-confidence now when I meet the judges. If you just keep studying, youll get the hang of it.
Unlike the young pig handlers, who have to keep in mind such practical concerns as the ability of the pigs teats to suckle their young, rabbit breeders look for more aesthetic qualities, such as the length of the rabbits ears and the patterns of their fur coloration, which can disqualify certain breeds of rabbits regardless of their other qualities.
After 51 dairy cows were trotted out onto the fairgrounds, the Silvana Fairs organizers honored the memory of one of their longstanding participants. Martin Danner was born in Everett in 1957, raised in Arlington and Silvana, first got involved with the Silvana Fair in 1970, joined the Silvana Fair board of directors in 1975, and passed away May 27 of this year.
Martin was always willing to do what was needed, said fellow fair board member Curt Larson, to an audience that included Danners widow, his son and daughter-in-law, and his two daughters and sons-in-law. His expertise was in the electrical field, providing all the experience needed to get all the electrical projects completed. Early Saturday morning, youd find him out on the fairgrounds, pulling cords, hooking up microphones and making sure everything was working properly. When it was over, he was back out there taking everything down, putting it away and getting ready for next years fair.
Last year, the Silvana Fair dedicated a memorial garden in honor of fair board member Lee Tatum, who died in 2005. This year, they added a lamppost to the garden in Danners memory.
Those two set the bar high for volunteering, Larson said. All we can do is live up to it.

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