Sumter fair to go on without the livestock competition

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The American Legion Post 15 Sumter Fair returns to the fairgrounds and the Sumter County Civic Center on Sept. 26 through Oct. 1 with most of its perennial favorite features and some new ones. However, many people have been expressing disappointment that there will be no livestock competition this fall.

Peter St. Onge, vice commander of Post 15 and co-manager of the fair, said the reason for the lack of the competition is simply that "there are only a very few families that express interest in bringing their livestock to the fair. Therefore, (the fair committee) made the decision that, instead of having only five cows and two horses, we'll move the animals you'd normally see in a petting zoo to the Swine Barn."

St. Onge said there will not be as many animals of each kind, but there will be "horses, cows, pigs" and so forth.

"We don't want kids to come to the fair and not see the animals they expect to see," he said.

He lamented the fact that there are no dairy farms in Sumter and that fewer families raise livestock.

"Unfortunately, we had to do this," St. Onge said. "We considered it long and hard. With moving the 'petting zoo' animals to the Swine Barn, the kids will see the same type of animals, maybe not as many as before. There just won't be entries from families."

He said the American Legion Post 15 "can't make the families bring their livestock" and that there simply are not enough families any longer to fill the barn as in the past.

"We're here all year long trying to do this," he said. "There simply is not enough interest or enough people with livestock."

St. Onge also said that it presents a problem for families who would have to have someone stay with their livestock at the fair now, during a busy harvest season.

The agricultural exhibits will be the same, he said, although some will be moved from the "side rooms" in the Sumter Civic Room to the larger center court.

"We'll be rearranging some things to give the exhibit space a new look," St. Onge said.

For complete information about the rides, entertainment, food and art and flower shows, see the Sunday Panorama section.