• Last modified 1433 days ago (June 17, 2015)


Chickens scratched from fair, fouling kids' projects

News editor

Aubrey Craig of Florence had the champion standard bantam chicken last year at the county fair.

She won’t this year. Neither will anyone else.

Kansas Department of Agriculture last week canceled all chicken shows for the rest of 2015 to try to keep avian flu from spreading.

Aubrey, 13, and her sisters, Kalea, 11, and Cadence, 9, took more than 30 chickens to the county fair last year.

“One of the fun parts is when they bring little kids there who say, ‘Ooo, I want to touch them,’” Aubrey said. “Last year we got to get the chickens out of the cage and let the kids pet them. They loved that.”

The first bird Kalea showed at the fair was Miss Flappers.

“I got to bring her to the state fair last year,” she said.

Aubrey understands why canceling chicken shows was important.

“Since that disease is going around, it could spread to other chickens,” she said. “And then we could bring our chickens back and kill all the other chickens. That would be pretty bad.”

That’s what the department is trying to prevent, communications director Beth Gaines said.

Only one confirmed case of avian flu has been reported in Kansas, and it was in Leavenworth County in March. But with cases reported in Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri within the past six weeks, the department is being proactive, she said.

The ban means kids and families lost money, time, and effort working on poultry projects, extension agent Ricky Roberts said. The extension service is looking into alternatives that kids with chickens can do for fairs.

“What kind of poultry exhibit can we put together minus live birds?” Roberts said. “We still want something educational.”

Aubrey had something in mind before the ban went into effect.

“I was wanting to do a presentation or a poster on how the egg forms inside a chicken’s body, how it forms when it comes out, and eventually how it ends up on someone’s plate,” she said.

While their chickens will miss the fair, the girls won’t; each has multiple projects. Quilts, horses, vegetables, flowers, decorative displays, paintings, and more. Their mother, Natasha, said each girl took about 40 projects to the fair last year, but they’ve cut back a little this time, much to her relief.

“I’m not heartbroken about the chickens,” she said.

Last modified June 17, 2015