Stay safe and smart at summer fairs!

Make the most out of your family's visit to the summer fair.

Fairs across Michigan are a sure sign of summer! Bringing to mind Michigan 4-H, FFA members and families showcasing projects from photography to woodworking to community service gardens to animals. As you headout to visit a fair in your community, or a petting zoo, or any type of livestock show, here are suggestions from Michigan State University Extension to make your visit even more memorable:

  • Take some time as you are heading to the fair to talk about behavior around animals. Sheep, beef and hogs are typically referred to as livestock. Whether we are talking about livestock, horses, illamas, rabbits, goats or poultry proceed with caution for safety!
  • 4-H and FFA fair exhibitors have a great deal of pride and knowledge.  Ask questions from, What do you feed the animal? How long have you had the animal? What have you learned from owning and showing this animal? Even, the crazy questions, like Do brown cows give us chocolate milk? And, no brown cows don’t give us chocolate milk.
  • Fairs are an ideal back drop to take pictures! Just because an animal is resting doesn’t mean that you should place your infant on the back of the animal. Last summer we observed a mother place her baby on the back of a dairy cow. This could have quickly resulted in an accident when the cow stood up and the mother was out of the reach of her infant. So take lots of pictures, but remember to ask permission or assistance from the exhibitor.
  • Keep your distance when walking or pushing a stroller behind animals. Animals have personal space too! Avoid getting behind the back legs of horses, cows and other livestock. A sudden kick or a swat of a tail can happen quickly, as animals are cooling off or using their natural fly-swatter.
  • Get jumpy? You get jumpy when you hear a loud bang; animals get startled too. Plus, animals have even more sensitive hearing.  Mute your phone, place the noise maker in your bag and walk quietly around the animals.
  • Keep your hands to yourself when tempted to reach inside to pet the cute and cuddly rabbit. It just might bite! Many times members will hold their small animals like a chicken or rabbit so that you and your child can touch. If you drop something into cage, pen or stall, always ask the exhibitor to retrieve the item for you. After the item is retrieved make sure that you wash it carefully.
  • People food is for people! Sharing food and drinks with animals can create cross-contamination and make animals sick. So you get to keep your Elephant Ear pastry all to yourself.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reminds visitors at any fair, exhibition or  petting zoo to know that animals carry germs that can make people sick. Never eat, drink or put things in your mouth in animal areas. Older adults, pregnant women and young children should be extra careful around animals. Wash your hands with soap and water right after visiting the animal area.

What better way to learn about Michigan agriculture then through a visit to county fairs or other events this summer? Be smart, safe and prepared to make sure your visit is even more special!

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