PALMYRA, Mo. -- Goats, sheep, poultry, rabbits, hogs and dogs -- and their keepers -- were the stars Wednesday at the Marion County Fair.
Throughout the day local 4-H and FFA members got to show off their animals and earn prizes.
For many local youngsters, showing animals is a family tradition they look forward to each summer.
Shannon DeHaan, 17, has been showing sheep, goats and cattle every year since she turned 8.
"My mom grew up showing sheep, and my dad showed cattle growing up," DeHaan said. "So my three brothers and I also show cattle. Basically they passed it on to us, so we're going to keep doing it and pass it on to our children."
DeHaan, a Palmyra High School senior, is showing animals this week as an FFA member. Next week, she'll take her showmanship skills to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia while competing in FFA and 4-H categories.
"That's even more of an experience because you get to show against the best livestock in the state," she said.
DeHaan said she and her brothers started out showing sheep and cattle, "then we acquired goats along the way" because they're fun.
"They have so much personality," she said. "Goats will stand up on stuff and then flip off. It's insane. The sheep just stand there and be lazy, but the goats are a totally different story."
Before taking part in showmanship competitions, participants go out of their way to spruce up their animals.
"We'll comb their hair and make them look real pretty," DeHaan said. "It's almost like a beauty contest for animals."
Marion County Fair officials say about 250 FFA and 4-H youths entered events at this year's fair, with about 150 involved in animal competitions.
Bonnie Lutener, a Goat Committee volunteer, said youngsters benefit a great deal by raising and showing animals. Lutener should know. She showed cattle years ago while in 4-H, and her own kids showed goats.
"I think it gives them leadership skills," she said. "It gives them the opportunity to get out in front of an audience and do things. And it gives them a sense of pride that they've accomplished something."
Weston King, 13, brought nine sheep to the Marion County Fair on Wednesday while his sister, Candra, 10, brought six. Weston said he loves showing animals.
"My mom started showing sheep when she was young, and it kind of passed down to us," he said. "So now my mom and dad have sheep, I have sheep, and my sister has sheep."
Weston said one of the hardest things he had to overcome was getting too attached to farm animals that would ultimately get sold.
"I remember crying when I was little, but you grow out of it," he said.
He also has learned how to shear wool off sheep before showing them in competitions.
"It's fun when you're shearing them to see what they actually look like," he said. "It's like unwrapping a present."
Eight-year-old Addy Kroeger showed goats for the first time Wednesday.
"I'm really, really nervous," she said before the goat show.
Addy said she decided to start showing goats because "I really love animals," and she already knew a lot about goats.
"I grew up with goats," she said. "My dad used to have a big herd of them. I just really like raising them."