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Locals head to extended Oakland County Fair—July 6- 15



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Front from left, Alexa Dahl (NOAH president), Piper Pantlone and Maggie Smith. Back from left, Jackie Ervin (NOAH VP), Shannon Ervin and Delaney Pantalone. Photo by David Fleet. (click for larger version)
July 04, 2012 - Michelle Ervin and her family, which includes husband Patrick and their six children, have a major vacation every year at the Oakland County Fair at Springfield Oaks Park.

This year's vacation is planned for July 6-15, an extra long vacation as the fair expands its length to 10 days this year, up by four days.

"It's not the same as a romantic weekend with my husband, but it's good, clean fun and starts at the crack of dawn and goes to midnight," said Michelle. "When the 16th rolls around, we're exhausted."

The Ervin children—Dillon, 19; Jackie, 17; Annie, 16; Shannon, 15; Nathan, 13; and Ryan, 8— have all participated in 4-H over the years. Dillon is no longer in 4-H, but will be visiting the fair throughout the next week and may even see his siblings show their rabbits, turkeys, broilers (chickens), sheep (both market and breed stock) and horse.

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Michelle founded the North Oakland Animal Husbandry 4-H Club in 2005. The club now has 20 kids on the official roster, ranging in age from 8- to 18-years-old. Activities include education on the proper care, housing, nutrition and breeding of large stock; field trips to horse, dairy and hay farms; tours of barns at Michigan State University; hosting petting farms; and educational presentations.

"The funny thing about the club is I'm a city girl," said Michelle. "I believe 4-H is a means to connect the kids with other kids who want to learn not just about animals, but gain leadership opportunities and career-building skills. The nice thing about 4-H is that there is a place for everyone and you don't have to be from rural Oakland County to participate."

Since 2005, the kids of the club have expanded from breeding rabbits into large animal auction— including sheep and goats.

At the fair, club members will show these animals and more and will also compete in art, singing cake decorating, jewelry, consumer education and photography.

"It's a kid's world," said Michelle of the fair. "The kids are excited about the contests, the rides, we camp there and they have a ball. Every year they come home with more and more friends. They like watching the monster trucks. There is a whole culture when you start camping at fair."

For a complete list of contests, animal exhibits, events, and more, visit www.oakfair.org.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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