Monday, Apr 28 2014 03:58 PM

Young fair livestock exhibitors still in limbo

BY KELLY ARDIS Californian staff writer kardis@bakersfield.com

Young livestock exhibitors will have to wait a little longer to learn whether they'll be allowed to show large animals at this year's Kern County Fair.

The fair livestock department had agreed, for the first time, to allow independent exhibitors ages 5 to 8 to show large animals but later learned the decision violated state rules in place to address the safety of the children.

Though a decision was expected Friday, county fair CEO and general manager Mike Olcott said Monday he needed more time to work out a resolution with the California Department of Food & Agriculture, which penned the state rule book.

"We're still working on it. (The state) will not let us change or break the rule, but there may be another way," said Olcott, who declined to elaborate on potential solutions or when a decision might come.

He did, however, address the disappointment the rule change has caused.

"There was no intent to hurt anybody," Olcott said. "We wanted to include as many people as we can. When people tell you they want to show (animals), you try to see them accommodated."

Kristine Hudson, a community leader for the Southwest 4-H club, said she warned fair officials that changing the age limit would violate state rules. Olcott acknowledged hearing those concerns before the rule was changed but he said the issue ultimately boiled down to a misunderstanding.

"It was a misinterpretation; we'll resolve it," Olcott said. "I'll take care of it."

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