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Animals have always been a draw to any event because of their charm. Years ago, when I worked at a library, we were always invited to a community birthday party where kindergarten roundup was held and various groups set up booths to promote their cause and interests. I was usually set up in the center of the gymnasium because I brought small animals and birds for the children to see and touch. Through the years, the community’s youngest population met call ducks, banty roosters, and angora rabbits at the annual celebration.
The Blueberry Hill Pony Rides, LLC takes it up a notch with their operation where children get to pet the ponies while they experience riding them in a controlled environment. Carman and Chrisitina Croslin have owned Blueberry Hill since 2014 when they took it over after having worked with it for over a year. Through research and evaluation, they found that they could do up to four events in a day and that helps because of the popularity of the ponies.
“We have 32 ponies at home,” Christina said. “We always take an extra pony to each event so the operator has a spare in case they need one.”
When the Culpepper and Merriweather Big Top Circus comes to town, they feature some special events before the main one with the Big Top raising being at the top of the list. While watching, the spectators are invited to go on a tour of the circus attractions including a petting zoo. Their small one has turkey poults (babies), ducks, chickens, a cow, an alpaca, and goats. The opportunity to touch the animals was offered during the circus times as well and was a favorite stop for many of the children and adults.
During the annual Midstates Mule and Donkey Society Inc. show, the participants always take time out to visit the residents of a nursing home located across the road from the fairgrounds where the show is held. A parade of animals ranging from miniature to draft entertain the elderly people while making an appearance during the weekend.
These are just a few of the ideas that have been tried and successfully share animals with the public. County fairs are known for their takes on the ‘Miracle of Birth’ concept along with Barnyard Babies where young animals are shared by 4-H members, pig or duck races, and exhibited 4-H project livestock. When planning to educate children about animals, look to these offerings and enjoy the opportunities.

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