Oxford County Fair kicks off with bugs and bees

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OXFORD — Area students dug through soil looking for bugs and worms, and watched the hustle and bustle of hundreds of honeybees during Agriculture Education Day at the Oxford County Fair on Wednesday.

As students walked into the fairgrounds on Pottle Road, they were greeted by two large canopies over several educational booths. At one, members of the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway had a tote filled with soil for students to dig through. Each student was given a magnifying glass to search for bugs in the soil.

Second grade student Drew Walker from Crescent Park School in Bethel gasped as he unearthed a tiny centipede.

Minutes later, Gabriel Russell, also a second-grader, yelled, “I got a worm,” holding it up as it clung to the side of his magnifying glass.

Another exhibit that drew a lot of attention was the Oxford Hills Honeybee Club, which featured an observation hive for students to watch the hustle and bustle of hundreds of honeybees.

Member Paula Easton said the club has been participating in Agriculture Education Day “for about seven years.”

“It’s so fun every year to see the faces of the kids when they see the bees up close,” Easton said. “Some of the kids put their faces right up against the glass, and others back up as if the bees are going to fly out.”

Easton described Education Day as “planting seeds.”

“These things we’re teaching them are the seeds, and hopefully, the information will stick with them as they grow,” she said.

For more than 25 years, the Oxford County Soil and Water Conservation District in Paris, in cooperation with the Oxford County Agricultural Society, has organized the day to teach students from public, private and home schools about agriculture and conservation.

Jeannie Federico of the Conservation District said, “This year, the theme was ‘habitats.’”

One of the biggest attractions Wednesday morning was Norway Police Officer John Lewis’ police K-9 demonstration in the field outside the fairgrounds’ pulling pavilion.

More than 100 students sat or stood outside the field as Lewis showed them the equipment he uses on Bolo, the purebred Labrador retriever that has served as the town’s police dog since the beginning of the year.

Throughout much of Lewis’ presentation, many of the students whispered among themselves, “Where’s Bolo?”

After 10 minutes of waiting, the students clapped and cheered as Lewis opened the door of his police cruiser and Bolo came sprinting out in a blur of black fur.

Lewis explained how he trained Bolo to be able to pick up the scent of a single person, even when he’s surrounded by conflicting smells.

The fair will continue Thursday with the new Steer and Oxen Farmers’ Pull at 6 p.m.

On Friday, the annual Woodmen’s Day begins at 9 a.m., and Saturday will feature a 5 p.m. performance by the Marshall Tucker Band.

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