Whether a curious sheep or just-born chicks, kid goats or piglets, there is no end of animals to see at the Columbia County Fair. Competing cows, sheep and other farm livestock vie for blue ribbons and the coveted title of “Best in Show”. And bucking broncs and ornery bulls challenge the skills of cowboys and cowgirls at the Painted Pony Rodeo on Labor Day.

CHATHAM – County fairs are traditionally a place where folks can get a little closer to dairy cows than they might normally.  There’s also the chance to see rare breeds.  At the Columbia County Fair, for example, there are usually Jacob’s Rams on display – the oldest breed of sheep in the world.  And the Poultry barn can sometimes show naturally pink chickens. Yes, pink.

There are plenty of animals on display outside of the barns, too.  If racing pigs seem like an anomaly, then the Fair is the place to change your mind.  Each day, 6 of the porkers don their silks and head out to compete for checkered flag honors.  Nearby, and much slower, viewers can marvel at the power of oxen. At more than 2,000 pounds each, they won’t win races but they will enthrall with their brute strength.

Maybe horsepower is more appealing?  The Open Horse Show is taking place this year on August 25th beginning at 8:30AM, three days before the official opening of the Fair.  “We wanted to give this classification more attention,” a Fair spokesperson said.  “We’ve moved the competition to the Grandstand where there is more room for viewers and a bigger, better rink for horses and riders.”  Horse lovers can play amateur judges – grading an entry’s walk, trot, canter and back-up. Or check out English Fitting and Showmanship – or western riding.  “It’s a great arena for showing off the equestrians and their skills,” he added.

On Monday, Labor Day, hold your breath as cowboys and cowgirls risk life and limb riding bucking broncs and wild bulls as part of the Painted Pony Rodeo.  Riders are competing for national titles with serious cash prizes on the line – and a one-of-a-kind belt buckle.  The animals, too, get judged on their speed, stamina and orneriness.  Thrilling to watch, the dust is sure to get kicked up into the stands adding some additional authenticity.

Animals are just one aspect of the Fair.  There’s magic, local bands, acrobats, The Dairy Bar, Demolition Derby, Monster Truck Pull, a talent contest and much more.  Headlining this year is triple gold recording artist Frankie Ballard, a singer and song writer with deep Nashville roots.