It was while visiting last year's Newton County Fair that Mason Webb, 8, Neosho, decided he wanted to show hogs.

It was while visiting last year's Newton County Fair that Mason Webb, 8, Neosho, decided he wanted to show hogs.

His mother showed swine at the same fair when she was a girl, so Webb thought he would give it a try. And at this year's Newton County Fair, which kicked off Wednesday, he'll be more than a spectator. You can watch him in the show ring this week with his market hogs, Ruby and Red.

“I really like pigs,” Webb said. “They're cute and they're strong. And they're good to eat in the winter.”

Spencer Ruark, 13, of Stella, likes pigs too. Though he's showing both hogs and sheep at the fair this year, Ruark said he prefers to show hogs.

“Pigs handle good once you get them going,” Ruark said.

While final livestock numbers aren't yet available for this year's fair, being held at the Roy Jean Carter Memorial Fairgrounds, located off of Lyon Drive (Route D), west of Crowder College, last year there were 138 beef cows, 128 horses, 73 meat goats, 69 dairy goats, 32 sheep, 32 swine and 18 dairy cows, plus 400 poultry entries and 265 rabbits.

Making his debut in the show ring this year is Allen Smith, 6, of Fairview, who is showing Boer (meat) goats. Smith said he likes goats all right, though “some are nice and some ain’t.” At past fairs, he has brought chickens to exhibit, but this year he entered ducks.

Smith’s older sister, Dorothy Smith, 7, has showed goats before and is doing so again this year. She also entered rabbits.

“Goats are a good animal,” she said. “I like everything about them.”

It’s nine-year-old Barrett Burkey’s first year to show beef cattle. Burkey, of rural Granby, said Wednesday that he was excited but also nervous.

“I’m not used to showing,” he said.

He and his sister, Kanah Burkey, 13, belong to the East Newton 4-H Club. This is Kanah’s third year showing cows at the fair, and she also shows pigs. Asked why she and her brother show at the fair, Kanah shrugged.

“We live on a farm,” she explained. “And our parents did it.”

Indeed, Bart and Kelly Burkey both used to show at the Newton County Fair. Bart showed beef cows, while Kelly showed dairy cows. They attended the same high school and started dating their sophomore year.

Kelly Burkey said she likes the fair because it teaches kids responsibility. She said she has noticed a change in both of her kids since they started showing at the fair. They know what they have to do and they do it on their own, she said.

“It teaches them that they can set a goal and that they can hit their goal if they decide to work hard to get there,” Burkey said. “And they have.”

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Besides watching the livestock shows, visitors to the fair can also stroll through the commercial exhibitors tent to meet local political candidates and peruse area business booths, check out the youth exhibits and entries (the building opens today at noon), try some fair food from a variety of vendors, and, tonight, enjoy live entertainment and carnival rides.

The fair continues today with a youth horsemanship show at 8 a.m. and closes at midnight. The fair will run through Saturday.