Berkshire County 4-H fair draws crowds


Photo Gallery | 2016 Berkshire County 4-H Fair in Pittsfield

PITTSFIELD — Madison Melino, 8, has a future in sales.

Melino, of Austerlitz, N.Y., and her sister, Isabella, 3, were at the Berkshire County 4-H Youth Fair on Saturday. They were selling baby rabbits under a small white tent. The rabbits were, of course, adorable, but Madison was being very honest to prospective buyers.

"It's fun but it's sometimes hard," to raise rabbits, she told a reporter.

Hard? They look so cute!

"Sometimes I get frustrated," she admitted. "Sometimes, they don't listen."

But sometimes they're fun, right?

"Sometimes," she said.

The Melinos raise rabbits for pets on their Austerlitz farm, said Danielle Melino, who is the mother of the two girls and also a teacher at Mount Everett Regional High School. The family also have horses and donkeys and chickens, she said. But only the rabbits came to the 4-H show with them.

The annual 4-H show attracts farmers from around the county and beyond. On Saturday, in addition to the rabbit sales, there was an equestrian exhibition, booths with various desserts and foods from a number off local farms, homemade jewelry, and even a mechanical bull for riding.

Near the rear of the grounds, judges examined sheep, goats, rabbits and other animals. Ribbons were awarded. There was a stage on which various bands and dancing groups performed.

Taking it all in were about 1,000 visitors, along with Commissioner John Lebeaux from the state Dept. of Agricultural Resources.

"The Commonwealth is very supportive of 4-H Fairs and Agricultural Fairs across the state," said Lebeaux.

Lebeaux had a busy weekend lined up. He toured an agricultural fair in the Cape Cod area on Friday, and said he'd be at a fair in Westfield on Sunday.

"At the end of the summer, I'll visit about 95 percent of the fairs held in the Commonwealth," he said. "I think it's important that we talk to as many agricultural folks as we can, to hear their concerns. It's part of the job."

One of the exhibits that got a lot of attention was the mechanical bull. The mechanical bull looks a lot like the one in the movie, "Urban Cowboy." And it moved like the one in the movie.

Tom Duane was running the mechanical bull. He was asked how long most of those riding the bull can actually stay on it.

Duane grinned,

"As long as I let them," he said. "I've had professional riders on the bull, and they tell me that it's harder than a real bull, because they can't read a mechanical bull like a real bull."

Thirteen-year-old Owen McNeill of Pittsfield climbed aboard the bull. Duane moved a level. The bull began to gyrate gently.

"Faster," said McNeill.

Obligingly, Duane moved the lever again. Boom! The bull didn't seem to move much faster, but McNeill bounced off its mechanical back and onto the mattress-like floor.

"It's tougher than it looks," he admitted after his ride. "But it was fun."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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