Keezletown Dairy Family Makes Fair An Annual Tradition
HARRISONBURG — It’s the opening day of the Rockingham County Fair and two of the Belvoir Dairy show cows have just given birth in the back of a trailer on the fairgrounds.
“It’s always something,” Corinne Welsh said with a smile as she leaves to help her family get the animals situated. “We’d hoped they would make it through the week before they had their calves, but we’ll just adjust and work around it.”
The Welsh family of Keezletown has made the fair something of a family tradition.
“We did our first fair about 32 years ago,” said John Welsh, 71. He’s Corinne’s father-in-law and was a practicing large-animal veterinarian in the area for 30 years before retiring last year. “We raised seven children who have all participated in the fair and we have 18 grandkids. Fourteen of them are in the world of agriculture in some way or another.”
One of those grandchildren is Caroline Warns, a sophomore dairy science major at Virginia Tech.
“This is my 11th year at the fair,” Warns, 19, said. “I’ll still show my cow, Needa, and then I’ll help the younger kids prepare for their shows, too.”
Warns and Needa will make their fifth fair appearance together this year and Warns has the art of getting the large Jersey cow ready down to a science. Preparation on show day includes washing, grooming and clipping the animals.
“The little kids will come through with clippers and then I’ll come in behind them and make sure it’s right,” she said. “But we don’t tell them that part. We let them think they got it perfect the first time.”
Warns plans to become an agriculture educator after graduating Tech. Her volunteer work includes traveling to local classrooms with the farm’s animals.
“I like to call what I do ‘ag-vocating’ because I’m pretty passionate about the work we do. I believe in it,” she said.
In all, with Warn’s five siblings and a number of cousins and friends who will also show, the Belvoir Dairy will be represented 15 times during the dairy cow competitions, and that doesn’t include the family members who also show goats and other livestock.
One of the youngest Welsh family members to participate this year will be 7-year-old Bram Welsh, son of Connie and John Welsh Jr. He’ll show 4-month-old Jersey Cow, Petunia.
Corinne said the dairy barn is a tight-knit group.
“All the dairy families know each other well,” she said. “Our children have grown up together through the 4-H and fair events and so we look out for each other, too. The kids grow up in 4-H together and then when they get to high school, they tend to know each other. It’s a great thing for them to have.”
The fair’s livestock shows continue today at 8 a.m. with the open and junior dairy show. This afternoon, the 4-H and FFA lamb show starts at 3 p.m.
For a complete schedule of livestock events, visit www.rockinghamcountyfair.com .
Contact Megan Applegate at 574-6286 or email@example.com