Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 4, 2011

Mineral youth test agricultural knowledge at fair’s Skill-A-Thon

— KEYSER, W.Va. — Hey kids, do you know the difference between a brisket and a ribeye? If so, the Mineral County fair’s Skill-A-Thon might be just the thing for you.  

Since 1999, the Skill-A-Thon has tested youth ages 9 to 21 on everything from the different cuts of steak to sheep anatomy.

This year, about 40 kids tested their endurance in the mental marathon, according to 4-H volunteer and West Virginia University Extension Office intern Tommy Nester.

“They test their knowledge of the things that we taught them all week,” said Nester. He added that the event is only open to students in Mineral County 4-H or the Future Farmers of America.

The Skill-A-Thon features a series of tests on each of the species of animals at the fair and other areas of the agriculture sciences.

Sarah Page, 14, of Burlington and winner of last year’s contest, is in her third year of competing in the Skill-A-Thon. Page also entered a steer and two heifers to be judged at the fair.

“I got second place with the steer and with one heifer, grand champion,” said Page, a member of the 4-H.

Page said that last year for winning the Skill-A-Thon, she received a feed scoop.

This year, Nester said the Skill-A-Thon is being sponsored by Krista and Vince Manna and the winner will receive a Tractor Supply gift card. Nester said that each  participant also receives a T-shirt.

James Kirk, 18, of New Creek, was participating for the third year in a row. A recent graduate of Keyser High, Kirk hopes to find a job in the agriculture field. This year, Kirk entered a steer and a goat.

“I think (the Skill-A-Thon) is a great experience,” said Kirk, a member of the FFA.

While this was his first year competing with a steer, in the past Kirk entered goats. This year, Kirk won the showmanship award for his goat.

Dawn Heavener, 17, of the Keyser area, said that she looks forward to fair week all year. Heavener stays all week on the grounds to make it easier to care for her animals.

This year, Heavener en-tered a pig and a feeder heifer, for which she won grand champion.

“Most (of the) time, I want either grand champion or grand champion reserve,” said Heavener.

This is Heavener’s seventh year competing in the Skill-A-Thon.

“I enjoy working with animals,” said Heavener.

Even though the fair is winding to close for the 2011 season, there are still several activities to attend. The livestock sale and fireworks are Friday night. Saturday evening Kala DeHart will be performing, and both Friday and Saturday nights, the mud bog will be take place.

Emily Newman can be contacted at

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