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AFTER-HOURS ACTIVITIES

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GOUVERNEUR — After a hard day’s work of grooming and showing cows, the youth let loose after the gates close at the Gouverneur & St. Lawrence County Fair.

While the fair closes at night, farmers and their children sleep over at the dairy barn all week to keep an eye on the cows.

“New York state mandates that the cows stay at the fair for the whole week,” said Irene A. Hargrave, a participant from Heuvelton, who works for On-A-Whim Swiss. “A lot of the kids end up sleeping in cots at the barn while their parents sleep in trailers outside.”

A St. Lawrence County dairy princess once said the after-hours at the barn are like a giant slumber party, according to Carol H. Sheesley, a farmer from Cowbell Acres, Canton

“The youth have a lot of fun, and sometimes even do pranks, but it’s all in good nature,” Mrs. Sheesley said.

“I once woke up with a sign crazy-glued on my chest,” said Darin M. Bresett, a 16-year-old from Heuvelton who has been raising cows since he was 10. “Sometimes, you might even find your hand in a cow patty.”

The most memorable prank at the barn involved a goldfish, according to David C. Putman, Mr. Bresett’s cousin.

“We took one kid’s goldfish and put it in a cow’s water bucket,” Mr. Putman said. However, the tables were turned once the goldfish’s owner took his pet fish out of the water bucket and pretended the cow had eaten it, Mr. Putman said.

“When we looked inside the bucket, we were really fooled into thinking the cow had the fish for a snack,” Mr. Putman said.

However, not all of the fun revolves around pranks.

“The atmosphere is mostly laid-back; sometimes we play card games like Spoons,” Mr. Putman said. “It’s a good place to make friends.”

Though the youth have a lot of fun at night, they still work hard when the cows are being shown.

“I have a 3-year-old who is starting to get into cows,” Brandon G. MacDonald, a farmer from Richville, said. “I’ve been showing cows for the past 20 years. It’s a great way to teach kids responsibility and for them to build friendships. I even have a beer or two with some of the other farmers at night.”

When asked whether the dairy farmers get along with the farmers showing beef cows, Mr. Putman said, “They don’t mess with us.”

Mr. Putman added he was joking and said there is no competition between them because the beef cows are different breeds.

“We get along just fine,” he said.

The beef cow show was absent from the fair this week because the beef cow farmers fell ill, said fair President Donald A. Peck.

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