The Washington County Ag Expo and Fair continued Wednesday morning with the 4-H/FFA Poultry Show.
Although the show drew a smaller crowd than its swine and dairy counterparts earlier in the week, it was no less significant to the young people between ages 8 and 18 who came to show off more than 70 birds in the shade of the fair’s rabbit and poultry tent.
Although it was only the second year of the poultry show, and the first year turkeys were included, American Poultry Association licensed judge Paul Gilroy of Indian Head, Md., who also judged last year’s competition, said he already saw an improvement in the youngsters and their animals.
“The quality overall is much better than it was last year,” Gilroy said, noting that he had “never judged a fair where I had 24 turkeys.”
Turkeys were grouped into weight classes — light, middle and heavy — and then judged by class. An overall grand champion turkey and reserve grand champion turkey were named from the three finalists, one from each of the weight groupings.
“Turkeys are a meat bird, so I’m looking for a bird that’ll build up meat,” Gilroy said.
He said turkeys should be teardrop shaped, although toms tend to be longer, while hens are usually rounder. He emphasized the importance of an active bird, one that will build up muscle as opposed to fat.
Caleb McDougal claimed first prize in the heavyweight class, which consisted of turkeys weighing between 32 and 40 pounds.
Gabriel Britt walked away with the blue ribbon for middle weights weighing 23 to 31 pounds, while Skyler Slimmer took home first place for light-weight birds between 11.6 and 22 pounds.
Caleb also received the award for overall grand champion turkey, while Skyler was named the reserve grand champion for her bird’s “very good body confirmation,” Gilroy said, which lifted it above the middle-weight category winner.
In the poultry showmanship competition, designed to test knowledge of birds and their care, participants had to hold their chickens, put them in and take them out of a cage and answer questions from the judge.
In the junior class for children aged 8 to 10, Skyler won first prize, followed by Aiden Musser in second and Hailee Long in third.
In intermediate showmanship, ages 11-13, solo entrant Braxton Griffith claimed first.
In senior showmanship, 14-18, Emma Brenengen took home the blue ribbon, while her competitor, Hannah Reed, won the red ribbon.
In the final poultry-judging event, Gilroy evaluated the chickens by seeing how well they meet APA standards and breed ideals.
For the large chicken category, Skyler was named grand champion for her Silver Cockerel, and Braxton earned the title of reserve grand champion for his White Lace.
In the bantam group, Braxton also won both grand champion and reserve grand champion for his Mottled and Dutch birds, respectively. Braxton was also named the overall grand champion and reserve grand champion.
Gilroy acknowledged that some of the birds “would hold their own in a real poultry show.”