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The new livestock barn at Juniata County Fair, built in spring 2022, will host a variety of new shows in 2023.

PORT ROYAL, Pa. — The new show barn in Juniata County has hit the jackpot.

The long-awaited facility at the Juniata County Fairgrounds in Port Royal is opening the door to new showing opportunities, including its first Jackpot Show this May.

The barn was completed in spring 2022 and available for use just in time for the Juniata County 4-H Fair in July and the Juniata County Fair in September.

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The barn’s ribbon cutting ceremony on June 25.

The barn is across the road from the previous barn’s site on the fairgrounds at 308 Eighth St. The fair committee purchased property from Juniata County School District on the opposite side of the fairground property to build the structure.

“It’s beautiful,” said Jill Hancock, superintendent of swine at the county fair and leader of the Spruce Hill Swine Club.

The original barn had been aging and did not have enough space any longer for the number of livestock at the fair, Hancock said.

Krista Pontius, barn superintendent, was in touch with fair historian Joanne Heckert to narrow down a timeline of the old barn’s construction, but the age of the fair’s original livestock barn is unknown. Heckert said that there were trees used as support poles, which indicates it was “a very old barn.”

Some of the benefits of the new facility are its expanded size and its all-new pens. The old barn was 56 feet by 200 feet. The new barn is 72 feet by 350 feet.

The right wing of the barn is for the swine. Chickens and rabbits are in the left wing. Sheep are in the front, and beef and dairy cattle are in the back.

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Wyatt Hancock, representing Juniata FFA, gives a speech at a celebration of the new barn on June 25, 2022. Behind him is Juniata County Dairy Miss Natalee Zug, representing Juniata 4-H.

The bleachers that were in the previous barn are now housed in the new facility. Wyatt Hancock, Jill Hancock’s son, plans to earn his 4-H Clover Award by replacing and fixing the old bleachers.

There are new water spigots around the barn, a welcome sight to 4-H’ers, along with a concrete area where livestock can be washed and prepared for showing.

“The feedback has been very good,” Hancock said. “Everyone is very happy, very pleased. Some have been joking about adding on (to the new barn) already.”

The county fair was full this year, she said, with livestock and audience members. To kick off the excitement of the new barn, the fair had planned various activities to get more people to stop and take a look. Games like cornhole, mutton-busting and grease the pig were offered to the public. The advertising worked, as people were elbow to elbow inside the barn in September.

The barn was built by Fisher Brothers, and was named Empire Kosher Agricultural Facility. Empire Kosher was one of the donors to the project. A large sign at the barn also names all the donors who helped fund the project.

“Agriculture is the cornerstone of our community in Juniata County,” Pontius said. “Having this beautiful facility to showcase our agriculture products and youth brings a great deal of pride to our community. Farmers take great pride in their farms and the nutritious products they produce to feed our growing world, and this facility is going to give us many options to put all of that hard work on display.”

More hard work will be on display this May, when the Jackpot Show takes place at the new barn. A Jackpot Show is typically a one-day event open to all youths that gives participants in each age bracket a chance to win prizes while gaining experience in showing.

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Fisher Brothers was the builder of the barn completed in May of 2022.

“Chase the Banner Jackpot” is set for Sunday, May 28. Registration and weigh-in is from 6 to 9 a.m. Lambs will be shown at 10 a.m. in ring one, followed by goats. Pigs will be shown at 10:45 in ring two. Bylaws and guidelines are visible at pacla.org.

Hancock said the livestock committee reached out to Pennsylvania Club Livestock Association members about the new facility.

“There were a lot of these (Jackpot) shows in western Pennsylvania and also in Lebanon,” Hancock said. But, she said, there was nothing near Juniata County or central Pennsylvania.

So, in November, the committee applied and was granted permission to hold a show. The show is not limited to PCLA members, Hancock said, so anyone can show.

Those showing have a registration fee of $25 per animal. Vendors will be on hand and there will be plenty of parking by the old Tuscarora Valley Elementary School building next to the barn.

“We are so excited to host a Jackpot Show,” said Pontius. “Juniata County has a lot to offer and because of this beautiful facility, we will have an avenue to have people from all over the state come and compete at our Juniata County Jackpot Show.”

For more information, the show contacts are Jill Hancock at 717-994-5767, Krista Pontius at 717-385-6015 and Dan Zug at 717-363-1587.

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Tabitha Goodling is a freelance writer in central Pennsylvania.