Despite the cancellation of this year’s annual fair, the 2020 Delaware County Junior Fair moved forward, and champions have been named. In the market turkey field, that honor went to Ellen Riley, a Buckeye Valley graduate and current sophomore at The Ohio State University.
Asked to describe the feeling of having raised a champion bird, Riley said, “Really awesome. It was a surprise, because this is my first year raising any type of animal for 4-H … To win was really shocking. It was one of the best feelings, especially since it is my last year of 4-H.”
Prior to this year, Riley said her projects were all still projects, mostly in nutrition, and she had also done a cat project separate from the fair.
Riley, a member of the Going 4 Gold 4-H club, was drawn to the idea of showing a turkey this year after her brother and sister both showed birds during last year’s junior fair.
“They were so cool when my brother and sister showed them,” Riley said, adding the birds have “such great personalities” compared to the chickens they have.
As for what it takes to ultimately raise a champion turkey, Riley said there isn’t a whole lot that goes into it early, although she and her siblings go above and beyond the minimal care.
“We really are intensive in what we do with them, especially since we were in quarantine for a long time,” Riley said. “We would go outside with them all the time. It’s really about how much effort you want to put into them. You don’t need effort — some people don’t get them out of the cage at all —but we would have them out of the cage three times a day, for an hour each time.”
While Riley is thrilled to have raised the champion turkey, she acknowledged there was an element of luck to how she wound up with the winning bird.
“Honestly, I kind of got the luck-of-the-draw turkey,” Riley said. “We raised five turkeys, and (my siblings) picked theirs before me. I just got the lucky turkey.”
Given this was her final year in showing, Riley said she will miss the moments when projects finally came together completely, as well as the showing and judging process at the fair.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.