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Etiquette at the Fair? Yes Please!

In the Florida Panhandle, fall is fair time, and many 4-H families are preparing exhibits for the fair.  Here are some tips to help you prepare for your first fair, or show.  For information about how to prepare non-animal exhibits for the fair, read this blogpost.  If you are exhibiting an animal, read on!

  1. Make sure you are enrolled in 4-H for the current year. Some fairs even require youth to be enrolled 30 days prior to the event, or to be able to prove ownership of the animal for X number of days before the show.
  2. Make sure that you have the appropriate health documentation for your animal. If you are not sure, work with your local 4-H or Agriculture Extension Agent to find out what is required.  You can also visit the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  Don’t wait until the last minute to get animal vaccinations and documentation ready in time for the show.
  3. All animals must have an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (OCVI) for travel.
    1. Florida-origin cattle or bison moved for exhibition must be accompanied by an OCVI dated not more than 90 days prior to exhibition. Additional requirements vary by species.
    2. Sheep and goats will need a Scrapie Tag in addition to the OCVI.
    3. Poultry and domestic birds are required to have an OCVI for movement into Florida, but not specifically for exhibition. Birds presented for exhibition without an OCVI, will usually be inspected by a representative from the Florida Department of Agriculture, Division of Poultry. Ensure that your poultry have no external parasites, i.e., mites, fleas.
    4. Rabbits should be disease free and have no external parasites. All rabbits will be inspected.
    5. Swine entered into shows that are “non-terminal”, will be required to have proof of negative blood tests for brucellosis and pseudorabies in addition to an
  4. Photo Credit: Julie Dillard

    Work with your animal well in advance of the show. If you cannot control your animal, you may be asked to leave the ring. Practice, practice, practice!  It will be worth it!

  5. Learn about your animal. You should have general knowledge such as:  breed, age, weight, what kind of feed you use, protein and fat content, how long have you owned it, how much feed do you use and why, would you change anything about your animal?
  6. Some shows allow you to lease your animal (especially if it is a large animal like a steer or horse). Be sure to submit your lease agreement with your registration and bring a copy of it with you to check in.

Pack a Show Kit- In addition to packing your show clothes (nice blue jeans, collared shirt, closed toed shoes and belt), fill a tote or box with supplies you will need for the show.  Click on the titles below for a printable packing list, or read this blogpost for more details.

General Show Etiquette:

  • Always move in a clockwise circle (unless the judge instructs you otherwise).
  • Keep a sensible distance behind the animal in front of you.
  • When the judge asks you to line your animal up head to tail, leave ample space between your animal and the one in front of you.
  • It is acceptable to assist the exhibitor ahead of you with encouraging their animal to move, but never hit the animal.
  • Do not talk to the exhibitor next to you. The only person you speak to is the judge when answering a question.