LEWISTOWN, Mo. -- Taylor Weiman of Quincy, Ill., is only 8 years old, but already he's an old hand at showing dairy cows at county fairs.
Taylor, who started showing cows when he was 3, was an enthusiastic participant in Wednesday's open dairy show at the Lewis County Fair, where he was joined by his two younger brothers -- Nathan, 6, and Josh, 3. All three brothers showed cows under the watchful eyes of their parents, Adam and Kelly Weiman.
Adam, who has been raising dairy cows for years, "helps the boys show," Kelly explained. "I just help clean up and make sure everybody is where they're supposed to be."
The Weimans are longtime participants in the Lewis County Fair's open dairy show. Adam and Kelly wanted to get their sons involved as well, so they started each of them showing at around age 3.
"It's fun, and it teaches the kids so much -- responsibility and how to dedicate yourself to something," Kelly Weiman said. "My boys love it. And it gets us off the farm for the day."
The Weimans brought 10 cows to the dairy show Wednesday -- the second day of the 44th annual Lewis County Fair, which continues through Saturday at the fairgrounds a mile east of Lewistown on Mo. 16.
Taylor was showing the same calf, "Sammy," that he showed last year. "Last year I won junior showmanship," said Taylor, who will enter third grade this fall at St. Dominic School in Quincy.
Taylor said he enjoys showing cows.
"I like it because when I show my calves, they always are comfortable with me being by them," he said.
Also competing in the dairy show was 19-year-old Shaelyn Scoon of Lancaster, who started showing cows when she was 8.
"It's a family deal," she explained, telling how her grandfather, Chuck Scoon, a longtime dairyman, got her interested in working with dairy cows. Her mother also showed cows for many years. The family takes part each year in a variety of county fairs, state fairs and other events.
"We show nationally," Scoon said, noting how her family annually goes to the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisc., and the North American International in Louisville, Ky. In 2018, she said, the family had a cow that was honorable mention senior champion in the junior show at the World Dairy Expo and was reserve grand champion at Louisville.
"We had a good run last year," she said.
Scoon said she enjoys raising and showing dairy cows.
"It's a lot of hard work, but in the end it's worth it when you can show the world what all of your work accomplished," she said.
Laura Cary of Canton, a Fair Board member who oversees the dairy show, said about 80 animals from Missouri, Illinois and Iowa were entered in this year's competition.
Cary, who comes from a dairy family herself, said the show attracts many of the same people year after year.
"It's a tradition for a lot of these families," she said. "It kind of runs in your blood once you start, and you can't stop."
Another popular event Wednesday was the 4-H and FFA rabbit show, which attracted many local youths. Participating for the first time was Andrew Wisehart of Lewistown, who turns 12 on Friday. He brought a dozen rabbits that he started raising six months ago and walked away with an armload of prizes.
"I got a grand champion, I got two reserve champions and I got a whole bunch of blue ribbons," he said. "It was fun. I was a little bit scared at first, but it wasn't as bad as I thought."
Andrew's mother, Kathy Wisehart, was pleased to see her son do so well in his first show.
"I'm really proud of him," she said.
Jill Putnam, the fair's advertising chairman, said the fair got off to a good start, and she's expecting big crowds as the weather cools off later this week.
"We have a schedule full of events," she said.
She said Friday night typically draws the biggest crowd and is often considered a homecoming for Lewis County residents.
"A lot of people come out for the demolition derby and see people they haven't seen all year," she said.
Kayla Wentz, a Canton teacher, has been coming to the fair all her life. This year, for the first time, she has a booth in the commercial building promoting her new business, which involves selling health and nutrition items.
"To be able to meet up with everybody in one place is just awesome," she said.