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Suwannee River Fair opens

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Rabbit, poultry competitions tonight

It's that time of year — even if it does not feel like it — for the 61st annual Suwannee River Youth Livestock Show and Sale.

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It's better known as simply the Suwannee River Fair, a celebration of the Tri-County Area's agricultural roots as youth in 4-H and FFA in Dixie, Gilchrist and Levy counties compete for awards after spending the year raising rabbits, poultry, heifers, horses, goats, steers, pigs and doing Life Skills projects. Everything that has been done, right down to that  cup and a half of dry pellets are fed every day to some hungry rabbits, are recorded in project books that are turned in at the time the animals are entered in the show. 

While this week is about horses, goats, heifers, rabbits and poultry, it's only the first weekend of competition. Next weekend the steers and swine and Life Skills projects take over the brand new "Suwannee Palace" that has been built in the last six months. 

The new show building is a gift from the Joe Anderson Jr. family of Dixie County and promises to hold a bigger crowd — 1,000 people, on bleachers, is well lighted so everyone can see the animals and is airconditioned and heated so visitors, animals and exhibitors can be comfotable. 

Thursday afternoon and evening, last minute touches were being made to the buildingand the sawdust in the arena was being watered to hold down the dust as a huge fan lazily whirred overhead. 

Families brought their children to enter the poultry and rabbits. On Friday the heifers and dairy cows will start coming in to the familiar stalls behind the building. While the show area is new, the stalls for cattle and swine are the same ones that were behind the old building. 

Judging for the bunnies and birds starts with the Cloverbuds, the youngest competitors, at 7 p.m. and is followed by the older youth at 7:30. 

Saturday's activities start up at 8 a.m. and go into the evening. 

The show is free, but there is a concession stand that is a fund-raising enterprise. 

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