Seward County Fair Queen Amanda Collins, second from left, presents some developmentally disabled people with their awards after a special animal show Thursday morning.
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Daily Leader
Throughout the past week, 4-H and FFA youth from Seward County and the five state area have put their animals on display for judges at this week’s fair.
Thursday morning, some other individuals took to the arena with animals.
Following last year’s fair, Mike Hanson and Betty Moon, both members of the Seward County Fair Association, heard from a young man who said he would like to show animals at the fair.
The youth had brothers and sisters who had participated in animal shows at the fair, and Moon said he felt left out of the fun.
“We got to discussing it, and Mike says ‘I think we can do something about this Betty. Let’s get together and see if we can’t get a class just for these people’” she said. “Mike’s worked really, really hard on it.”
The individuals in Thursday’s show were some of the developmentally disabled from around the community, and Hanson said despite their handicaps, he could not tell they were disabled.
“They listened to us,” he said. “We had them practice before we let them get out there two or three times. They got out there. They did a great job. They weren’t pushing the animals. They were really calm. I was very impressed. I think they had a good time.”
Hanson said the young man who brought the idea to he and Moon’s attention was so nervous he couldn’t talk.
Moon said she and Hanson had worked with the people a few times at farms and at the Seward County Fairgrounds to get them prepared as to what to do and how to do it.
“They loved it,” she said. “It’s just something that they’re involved in the community, and it made them feel really great.”
Hanson said preparation included about three or four hours leading up to Thursday’s show.
“We just wanted the animals to get used to the people and the people to get used to the animals,” he said.
Hanson said at the end of last year’s fair, he began contacted people, and his efforts landed a few individuals wanting to participate.
“I think they had a great time,” he said.
Thursday’s show included three species of animals – cows, goats and pigs – and Hanson said the people who took part spent just a little bit of time with each animal.
“I think it went really well,” he said. “We didn’t want too many animals out there at the same time. Sometimes, they tend to fight.”
This being the first year of the show, Hanson said he did not know what to expect, but he believes it will become an annual event.
“We’ll try to raise a little money for maybe a little bigger prizes next year,” he said. “We just decided we wanted to do it and give them a little time. A lot of them had never had the opportunity to be around animals.”