"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" announced the rooster. Several children jumped back startled by the noise, but then approached again smiling after being assured it was OK by Mary Lambe.
The next question out of the children's mouth was, "Can we touch it?"
"Of course," said Lambe.
That's exactly why she was there to let them see, touch and learn about livestock.
Lambe was one of the 4-H leaders working in the petting area during the 4-H Awareness Day held Saturday at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna.
"We enjoy letting the animals be viewed by kids who ordinarily wouldn't get to see livestock anywhere else," Lambe said.
In addition to the rooster and his buddy, the hen, there also were floppy-eared rabbits, a gentle sheep and a rowdy goat.
Noelle Schmitter-Schrier celebrated her first place win in the educational poster contest with some cotton candy.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
"It's so soft," said Joey Davis, one of the children surprised by the texture of the sheep's coat.
Freya Chay enjoyed petting the animals. She also was surprised, but her astonishment was due to the animals' temperaments more than their coat textures.
"I couldn't believe the rooster let people touch him," she said. "My friend had a rooster and it was vicious."
The barnyard wasn't the only thing to see Saturday. There also was a food sculpting contest being judged by spectators as part of the day's events.
"I like the detail of the animals," said Alice Han, as she cast her vote for Joseph Ramirez's sculpture depicting a barnyard scene.
His piece included a zucchini shaped into a farmer, overseeing pigs made of lemons with cloves for eyes and toothpicks for legs, rabbits carved out of mushrooms, apples designed to look like chickens and a turkey, all contained within a corral of graham crackers.
There also was an educational display contest and children of different age brackets won ribbons for two separate categories general information and Junior Market Livestock.
The JML projects involved raising livestock for the Kenai Peninsula State Fair. The livestock rearing, with all the associated record keeping and public presentation, is an annual 4-H event.
"People don't realize how much work these kids do with the animals," said 4-H leader Kacey Cooper.
Some of the titles for the educational display's included: A Beginner's Guide to Equine Colors and Markings, How to Build a Portable Pig Shelter and Goat Meat 101.
"I'm really impressed with the projects I've seen this year," said Shane Bowlin, one of the judges for the contest.
Caleb Daniels presented his step wise educational display on How To Butcher a Hog. He said it was fun working on the project.
"Butchering the pig was harder than putting the project together," he said. "But I liked doing both."
In addition to the displays, several children also gave public presentations involving speeches and Power Point presentations on their subjects of interest.
Other activities of the day included a bake sale. Several children celebrated their accomplishments in the contests by snacking on some of the sweets afterward.
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