FLORENCE, S.C.

For 69 years, the Eastern Agricultural Fair has been serving as a hub for agriculture and livestock shows in the Pee Dee region each fall.

The fair provides the public with opportunities to see animals in addition to providing carnival attractions. This year’s fair ends Sunday.

This year, attendees could feed farm animals, milk a cow, watch pig races and more. They could also learn more about the history of farming through looking at antique farm equipment.

Since its inception in 1950, the mission of the ECA Fair has been to educate the public about agriculture, but recently the fair has begun to focus more on allowing youth opportunities to participate in livestock shows, said Jesse Adams, chairman of the Florence City-County Agricultural Commission.

The 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America participate in and sponsors livestock shows, Adams said.

This week, children could participate in local goat, hog, rabbit and poultry shows. This year,there was also a statewide meat-goat show, to which members of 4-H clubs across the state came to show goats.

Adams said the ECA Fair does something that most fairs don’t do: It provides livestock for children to participate in shows with.

“I don’t know another fair in the state that actually helps provide the pigs or the market goats for the participants,” Adams said.

Lee Van Vlake, area livestock and forages agent with the Clemson Cooperative Extension, said the livestock shows teach children leadership and responsibility when preparing for the show because they have to raise the animals, feed them and care for them.

“This fair focuses on youth involvement and the importance of agriculture, and we just hope that people will keep supporting this fair because this fair spends a lot of money and a lot of resources to offer these opportunities to these kids throughout the state and specifically to the Pee Dee region,” Van Vlake said.

In addition to livestock shows, there are also canning and food competitions in which participants vie for blue ribbons.

Adams said the Florence-County Agricultural Commission receives no county or city support in the way of tax dollars to continue its activities. The carnival activities at the ECA Fair help to provide for the activities and the commission’s facilities.

“This is our big fundraiser for the year. It’s very important that we have a successful carnival,” Adams said.

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