Cattle are pampered at the Hopkinton Fair

  • Jevanie Semerzier and Cooper, a Scottish Highlander steer, at the Hopkinton Fair. Courtesy of the Hopkinton Fair

For the Monitor
Saturday, September 02, 2017

The cow washing is underway, horns are polished, and we’ve moved into the Hopkinton State Fair grounds for Labor Day weekend. If my cows are at the fair, so am I. This is the third year for my “cow sleep over” at the fair. Some participants sleep in tents and others sleep with their cattle but we, fortunately, have a borrowed camper. Given the prospect of cold, wet weather this weekend, sleeping with my 2,800-pound oxen sounds like a warm idea.

If I only had to get the animals ready for the fair, my life would be simple. But I also have to pack up yokes, brushes, four days of cattle feed for seven animals, Kaopectate for cattle belly aches (yes “fair food” can be upsetting for cattle), a wheel barrow, pitch forks, manure shovels, and all of my clothes and bedding as well.

Each animal is inspected on arrival at the fairgrounds. If the critter looks unhealthy, it is sent home. Tattoos are checked as well. These are not fancy tattoos like dragons or eagles. No, these are letters and numbers tattooed in the animal’s ear that must correspond to the cow’s health certificate. At least one month before the fair, each animal must pass a health check that includes a rabies shot. This is lots of work for farmers but the 4-H animals take even more preparation.

Each 4-H member must sign a lease in April for the animals they intend to show during the fair season. Then the 4-H member must work with that critter until the fair. At the fair, 4-H participants are allowed to help each other, but adults and parents must keep their distance. In this way, 4-H members (ages 8 to 18 years old), learn to handle animals and help each other out.

Several years ago, we sponsored a 4-H club, the Highland Riders, here at Miles Smith Farm. Last year, 4-H Highland Rider, Jevanie Semezier, took Cooper, a yearling Highlander steer, to Hopkinton. This year, Jev and Cooper are the “poster children” for the fair and are featured on the fair flyer. Unfortunately, Jev and Cooper are staying home this year, but we have four other 4-Hers who will be showing Highlanders.

The Hopkinton Fair has always been a fun Labor Day weekend event, even before I started showing cattle. Now, the fairgrounds will be my home for 4½ days, where I’ll be working hard to pamper my cattle. Come visit my cattle, but also excuse my weary appearance. It’s hard keeping seven head of cattle comfortable and clean. I can’t think of a better way to spend Labor Day weekend than with my beasts and I’m sure they’ll all make me proud in the show ring.