Dog club wonders what will become of shows after 4-H pulls equipment from Frederick Fairgrounds

·5 min read

Jun. 28—The University of Maryland Extension is removing its 4-H equipment from the Frederick Fairgrounds after announcing its split from The Great Frederick Fair for 2021, leaving at least one club wondering what will become of its participation in the fair.

The Tailwaggers dog club is comprised of roughly 30 children ranging in age from 8 to 17 years old, said its equipment manager and longtime volunteer Lori Andrews. The club relies on 1,000-plus pounds of equipment to put on their dog show competitions and fence in the dogs at the fairgrounds, the only place they hold an agility show.

"My kids will not have a fair if they do not have access to the equipment," Andrews said in an interview. "When it begins to affect the children, I had to say something."

The Great Frederick Fair officials informed the University of Maryland Extension (UME)/4-H it would need to remove two trailers and two animal scales from the fairgrounds in light of UME/4-H's recent decision to discontinue its partnership with the fair for its 2021 season. Andrews and fair general manager Karen Nicklas said, however, clubs such as Tailwaggers could have continued to keep their equipment at the fairgrounds.

Andrews is speaking up in the hope that the leaders within UME/4-H will reverse their decision and allow Tailwaggers' youth to use their equipment at the fairgrounds.

UME/4-H recently took the shed and dog club equipment inside it from the fairgrounds, Nicklas confirmed Monday.

This comes after Frederick County 4-H officials, through the University of Maryland Extension announced they would not partner with The Great Frederick Fair for the 2021 fair, citing an inability to reach an agreement over 4-H participation in this year's fair.

Nicklas, in an email, said fair officials did not want the change to "negatively impact or affect the 4-H and FFA members in any way." Instead, she said 4-H and FFA youth would continue to be welcome to participate in the fair, despite the pause in their partnership with 4-H.

After 4-H announced its split with The Great Frederick Fair, the fair's board president in a June 9 email directed UME/4-H to remove four pieces of large equipment from the fairgrounds by July 1 — the beef office trailer, sheep office trailer, large animal scale and small animal scale. Charles B. Cramer, president of the fair board, in an email described these items as a "hindrance for the normal operating procedures" at The Great Frederick Fair and youth programming. However, he said individual Frederick County 4-H clubs were welcome to request permission to continue storing their equipment at the fairgrounds.

During a youth exhibitor meeting June 15, which was recorded and posted to YouTube, Nicklas said the fair would not have been authorized to use the two trailers and animal scales, so they had to be removed.

UME/4-H decided to remove the four requested pieces of equipment and more, emails show.

"We will be removing the UME owned property from [the] fairgrounds which includes the Dog Equipment. This equipment will still be accessible for leaders and members to utilize for club and project use," Donielle Axline, principal agent associate of 4-H youth development at UME Frederick, wrote in a June 16 email to Andrews.

Tailwaggers sought and was granted approval from the fair to keep equipment at the fairgrounds, emails show, which Nicklas confirmed. UME/4-H, however, moved forward with its decision to remove it.

Nicklas wrote in an email to the News-Post that fair officials are working with the volunteers, clubs and superintendents to provide whatever equipment youth need, and will replace equipment they lack, if necessary.

While Andrews appreciates the fair's efforts to ensure their club has the equipment they need, she's "angry" 4-H won't allow Tailwaggers to use the UME-owned equipment at the fairgrounds.

"First, we have never had to ask for permission to use our own dog equipment before. We have used that equipment all over the county, at nursing homes, libraries, and various parks for demonstrations without need of permission. There was no prerequisite of a 'partnership' in the past when we wanted to utilize our own equipment, so why is there one now?" Andrews wrote in an email to the News-Post.

What's more, she said Tailwaggers' youth through bake sales and other fundraisers paid for the equipment they would need.

When asked about the decision, a UME official suggested their club members are welcome to participate in The Great Frederick Fair — just not with 4-H's equipment.

"Frederick County 4-H [Tailwaggers] members are available to participate in the Great Frederick Fair and are encouraged to do so as youth members. However since the fair and UMD Extension are pausing their partnership for 2021, individuals managing the fair will have to provide their own dog equipment," Graham Binder, director of communications for the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, wrote in an email to the News-Post.

"We have been asked by the fair board to remove our property from storage, and we are taking the necessary steps to comply. We're not restricting 4-H access to the dog equipment by any means. All of UMD Extension's equipment will be made available to youth participating in any 4-H sponsored events now and into the future," Binder wrote.

Andrews is calling on UME/4-H to allow 4-H'ers to use the UME/4-H equipment at the fair and keep it at the fairgrounds so it's easily accessible.

"If you remove the money and the power from this situation, it again becomes all about the kids," she told the News-Post.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller

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