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Raising the roof
With annual fair set to start Monday, organizers get livestock arena ready
barn 1
With a new roof overhead, Carroll Zittrouer points toward the show ring of the Effingham Fairgrounds livestock barn. Zittrouer, chairman of the fairs livestock committee, is shown with three of the many people who were part of the project to install a new roof and sidewalks at the barn: volunteer Alan Mock, fair committee member Grady Rahn and fair manager Jim Simmons. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

The livestock barn at the Effingham County Fairgrounds has a new look.

The barn has been renovated, with the old roof sections that covered the goat and hog pens being removed and replaced with a metal roof “that looks great and should last a long time,” according to Carroll Zittrouer, chairman of the fair’s livestock committee.

Also, concrete sidewalks have been added alongside the barn. The walkways will enable fair visitors to see the livestock up-close without going into the barn.

“This will make it safer for the visitors, exhibitors and the livestock during shows,” Zittrouer said. “However, before and after shows, we want everyone to come in the barn and walk through the barn and look at our students’ projects.”

The barn renovation was funded with proceeds from last year’s fair. The fair committee’s goal each year is to accomplish one major project and other smaller ones to enhance the fairgrounds, according to fair manager Jim Simmons.

“Everything we do, we try to think how we can serve the public the best,” Simmons said.

The 71st Effingham County Fair begins Monday with the parade at 5 p.m. and no admission charge at the fairgrounds. Adults and students will show goats on Tuesday, hogs on Wednesday and cattle on Thursday of fair week.

This year, 85 students will show a total of 75 goats, 32 hogs and 15 cows, Zittrouer said. Many of them will have family members in attendance for the shows.

“It’s a big family affair,” Simmons said.

The family atmosphere extends beyond the livestock shows to the entire fair, said Simmons, who is in his fifth year as fair manager. During fair week, he often strikes up conversations with people about what attracted them to the fair.

“A lot of them from Effingham County say, ‘Well, I can’t afford to take my kids to Disney World, I can’t afford to take them to Six Flags’ and things like that,” Simmons said. “They say, ‘This is our vacation. We come out here maybe two or three times during the week, and this is where are able to bring our kids and enjoy some recreation.’”

The fair also can be a learning experience, Zittrouer said, especially for the students involved in the livestock shows. The participants experience the responsibility and pride of raising and showing an animal, while other children enjoy visiting the fair to see and pet the animals.

“You’re going to have some kids who are showing who never in their life had seen an animal until they got into FFA or 4-H and their advisor said, ‘Hey, are you interested in showing an animal?’” Zittrouer explained. “And it’s more than just our fair. They get to go all over Georgia showing.”

The participants in the shows certainly want to win, Zittrouer acknowledged. However, that competitive spirit — especially between competitors from schools on opposite ends of the county — is trumped by sportsmanship and goodwill.

“When these kids hit this barn, you can’t tell who’s South, you can’t tell who’s North,” Zittrouer said. “A kid might be going into the show ring and he doesn’t have his brush or his stick or whatever, and a kid from (the other high school) is liable to hand him one. They team up to help each other with their animals.”

The livestock barn has undergone several renovations through the years, including adding the show ring, installing bleachers and putting in a sidewalk through the middle of the barn for easier stroller and wheelchair access. An added feature of the new 145 x 22 metal roof is it will be safer than the old roof, and not just because it’s sturdier.

The old barn roof was not installed all at once, Zittrouer said, but rather over the course of three or four years of projects. The downside to the piecemeal roof, joked fair committee member Grady Rahn, was that each section of the roof was lower than the previous one.

“Every year, they would get shorter,” Rahn said with a laugh. “A 6-foot-tall man would bump his head where it began.”

Fair time
The annual Effingham County Fair begins Monday after the parade, which commences at 5 p.m. through downtown Springfield.

The livestock exhibits are as follows:
Tuesday - goats
Wednesday - hogs
Thursday - cattle

All livestock shows begin at 7 p.m.