Turkeys make first showing at county fair

Until this year, the Auglaize County Junior Fair had not hosted an event showing the Meleagris gallopavo. A local poultry club decided to give tradition up “cold turkey.”
While the junior fair had hosted an event for breeding turkeys in the past, market turkeys had never been shown at the fair. That is, until this year.
By the way, for those curious, Meleagris gallopavo is the scientific name for wild turkey, which domestic turkeys are descended.
Jim Nowicki, president of the Western Ohio Poultry Club (WOPC), said the event was overdue.
“A local club, the West Ohio Poultry Breeders Association (WOPBA), used to have a market turkey show in March,” Nowicki said. “But we had never had a market turkey event at the fair. We started looking around and saw that other fairs had it.”
The club took the proposal to the junior fair board in February, and they approved the inclusion of the event unanimously. Nowicki said they intend to keep the market turkey show ongoing now that the competition has gone through its first fair with overwhelming success.
“It was well-recieved and there was a lot of interest,” Nowicki said. “A lot of people were asking about it at the fair because they had never seen it.”
The event quickly got off to a great start when local poultry farm, Cooper Farms, donated all of the chicks to junior fair competitors. Nowicki said they intend to continue to advertise the event and let it grow.
“There were some growing pains,” Nowicki said. “No one knew how to show a market turkey because it simply never had been done here before. The judge of the event literally was showing the kids how to show the turkeys at the time of the show.”
The West Ohio Poultry Breeders Association formerly used to host one of the state’s biggest poultry shows. The Western Ohio Poultry Club is a resurrected form of the previous club.
Tyler Nowicki, who is a nephew of Jim, was one of the big winners of the first year event. He took home awards for champion hen as well as reserve champion tom. He said the event not only was fun and educational, but that it also produced a family first in a long line of fair activity.
“My father, his dad, and a lot of aunts and uncles have participated in the fair,” Tyler said. “We had some show champions, but we never had a market champ. This was a big thing for our family. It was so much fun and real exciting.”
Tyler said the family attended a market turkey seminar in Bellefontaine, and did a lot of studying in books and online for raising the turkeys.
“We experimented with it, and it obviously worked,” he said.
John Craft captured the prize for champion tom.
Braxton Roop showed the reserve champion hen.
Jim Nowicki said the club will now plan on bigger things with the quick takeoff of the event.
“We would like to raise the money to eventually put a new poultry barn at the fairgrounds,” Jim Nowicki said. “We would like to raise the money ourselves. A lot of times the clubs go to the county commissioners and ask for the money. We would like to do it on our own without going to the commissioners.”