4-H and Lil’ Wrangler poultry show kickoff Bartholomew County 4-H fair competition

It’s Friday morning. Food has yet to be fried, the rides have no lines, and temperatures have yet to hit the day’s forecasted 95 degree peak (although, it’s close). The fair doesn’t officially open until 5 p.m., but from a chicken’s perspective, the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair has already begun.

The poultry show can be heard before it can be seen. Clucking, cawing, chirping, quacking. The sounds are accompanied by the sights, exhibitors clutching chickens close, carrying them to and from the barn. Chickens in all shapes and sizes, some with feathers like stained glass, each tan panel outlined in thick black. Some chickens with fully white feathers. Some chickens with a rainbow of colors. And not just chickens, there’s ducks waddling in a pen and a pigeon sitting patiently in a cage, among good company with a variety of species and breeds in the barn.

Beth Beck and her daughter Lydia are wearing matching green Feathered Friends shirts, representing the 4-H poultry club. Lydia, 9, said that she has been showing for two years.

“It gives me great pleasure,” said Lydia, about having the opportunity to show her animals. She expressed that she would be “really happy” if one of her animals earned a blue ribbon.

Although Lydia’s favorite animal to show is goats because “they’re cute,” Lydia is excited to share what she knows about birds. And what she knows is a lot. She thinks it’s important for people to learn, not just about the animals, but also about what participants can gain through showing.

“It gives you practice,” said Lydia. Showing has made her feel comfortable with public speaking, and has taught her that there’s nothing to be nervous about.

“You can just go out there and have fun,” she said. Lydia said there’s nothing to be scared of, and showing taught her that.

Lydia’s also learned to not be shy. She’s more than willing to talk to anyone about her animals and, on this day, her bird. For the poultry show, Lydia is showing Queenie, a Polish chicken. Lydia and her mom both describe Queenie as “funny.”

Queenie has dark feathers and plume of white on her head, the crest signature to the breed. Queenie’s water is dispensed from a soda bottle fixed to her cage, because that’s the only way she wants to drink it. Queenie, with her fluffy white crown, seems completely unbothered by all the other birds in the barn.