By Christina Calloway
It was a hectic day at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds on Friday as volunteers and workers prepared for next week’s fair, but the laughter and teamwork wouldn’t lead you to believe so.
Shaelei Payne was one of several people hustling around the show barn, preparing to show a few pigs this week.
The sophomore from Dora loves animals and hopes to study animal science in the future. When she isn’t scoring points for Dora’s volleyball and basketball teams, Payne is tending her animals, following generations of her family who instilled the “work for a living” attitude within her.
“I like showing animals,” Payne said. “I grew up in the country. This is how I was raised.”
Payne has four pigs, Grace, Babe, Dixie and Chico, and will be “filling her granny’s shoes” next week when she shows swine as a fifth-generation participant.
In addition to animal shows, the fair will feature live music nightly beginning Wednesday, a host of vendors, carnival rides and activities.
Hog superintendent and Fair Board member Eddy Wilhoit said he’s expecting 168 entries to arrive on Monday for the swine shows, about 10 less entries than last year.
Despite the small drop in entries, Wilhoit doesn’t think the spirit of the show lessens any. He sees fair time as an opportunity for youth to exhibit responsibility and leadership.
“They learn a lot of people skills and responsibility taking care of these animals,” Wilhoit said. “A lot goes in that people don’t see.”
Roosevelt County rancher and recently elected District 3 County Commissioner Lewis Shane Lee, 42, said the fair is a time for county youth to show off their hard work while also visiting with friends. His daughters have shown animals for years and his wife is a fair board member so he’s hip to the run-around at the fairgrounds.
“It gives them self-worth,” said Lee of the participants of Friday’s Junior Livestock Sale. “It’s a good learning experience, it also teaches them not everyone wins. It’s pretty even playing ground. It doesn’t matter how athletic or popular you are.”
Lee’s looking forward to seeing his childhood best friend and fair board President Chek Rippee play fiddle and sing with the Delk Band on Saturday and thinks even though the Roosevelt County Fair isn’t the state’s biggest, it certainly is the friendliest.
“We’re all together, we’re all Roosevelt County,” Lee said. “(The youth) make good lifetime friendships.”