WELLINGTON – The big hit at the Lorain County Fair Kids Fun Show was a robotic dinosaur named Toby.
“That was probably one of the most interesting things we’ve seen,” said judge Debbie Pillivant, laughing.
Toby’s owner, 5-year-old Stephen Francis, was happy to show off the toy dinosaur, demonstrating how the animal walked. Surrounded by pet dogs, goats and even ponies, Toby stuck out like a sore thumb in his pink pet carrier.
Stephen’s mother, Betty Francis, said she and her son prepared for the judging by going over what Stephen would say about his “pet.”
“We talked about what he was going to tell the judges. He said, ‘I really don’t feed it. It just eats battery juice,’” she said, watching as Stephen showed off Toby to a group of excited children.
Stephen joined other children under the age of 9 who presented animals and crafts to three judges, who said there really is no winner – the contest is just for fun.
Participants don’t walk away empty handed, however. Each child received a Lorain County Fair hat, ribbon and plaque.
Laura Stanfield, who has been judging the show for two years, said the show is a stepping stone into 4-H.
“It’s just to get the kids opened up and used to it,” she said.
Pillivant, who judges as a representative of the Elyria Public Library, said there is a lot that goes into the presentation. Kids should know the breed of the animal, age and body parts – similar to what would be presented during a 4-H showing.
“Some of (the children) are very willing to speak, others you have to coax a bit,” Pillivant explained. “Lots of the kids bring their older brother’s and sister’s projects.”
Tom Brock, Stephen’s grandfather, came from North Carolina to visit, and he said the Lorain County Fair is a big event for the family. Stephen’s brothers and sisters have been showing animals, and Stephen wanted to be involved, even though he wasn’t old enough.
“The whole family has been involved in showing animals, and this is his first time. We wanted to get him used to it,” he said.
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