30 Jul 2020

Youth Markets at Maine Ag Fairs

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Programs for youths are a key part of a typical agricultural fair season. Several Maine fairs host 4-H or youth market animal programs culminating in the sale of the animal at their annual event. Through the course of 8-10 months (for beef), kids age 9-18 learn the fundamentals of being a good beef producer and build skills that will prepare them for life. In 2020 the pandemic has changed the exhibition options available to the youths and their advisors, and many will be turning to virtual events to show and sell their livestock. (Be sure to check out Maine State Virtual Fair 2020 online.)

Animal managment skills

Some of the things youth learn about market steer management include:

  • why people raise beef cattle
  • how to select project steers
  • how to feed and care for their steer and keep it healthy
  • steer health and anatomy
  • how to fit and show a steer
  • how to keep records
Youth markets at ag fairs are an opportunity for kids to exhibit steers they have raised.
4-H members exhibit market steers to be judged at the 2019 Oxford County Fair. Market steers average about 1300 pounds in weight!

Life skills

Working with market animals and taking part in 4-H activities also help kids develop personally and build skills for living. In summer 2020, this work has continued, even though the fairs and shows of past seasons won’t be happening as usual. In Maine, 4-H programs are carefully planned by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H program to include enrichment courses and activities that help teach kids about:

  • leadership
  • communication
  • personal development
  • developing shared values
  • career preparation
  • ability to perform in public
  • positive competition
Children exhibit sheep at the Oxford County Fair.
4-H members exhibit market lambs to be judged and crowned Champion, Reserve, Highly Commended, and Commended at the 2019 Oxford County Fair.

Farm to Fair Video

For more information and and to learn about the investment Maine youth make each year and what it means to them, watch our Farm to Fair video series: