University of Maryland Extension

Exhibiting Animals at Fairs and Shows

Exhibiting a 4-H project animal at one of Maryland’s County Fairs or the State Fair is a highlight of the 4-H year for many members enrolled in 4-H Animal Science projects. Here is a checklist of items to help members make sure that the various 4-H and fair requirements are met so that they can show.

NOTE: Always check with your County Extension Office AND the Show Rules for each Fair you choose to exhibit at for specific rules and guidelines.

1. 4-H Membership:

Youth must be enrolled in the 4-H program and be a member in good standing with their county and club.

  • Enroll or Re-enroll as a 4-H Member - Check with your County Extension Office for 4-H Membership Enrollment deadlines.
  • Enroll in the Animal Project(s) of your choice – Check with your County Extension Office for 4-H Project Enrollment deadlines.
  • Maintain a membership of good standing within your 4-H County.
  • Maintain a membership of good standing within your 4-H Club.

2. Ownership, Weighing and Tagging:

4-H members must own (or lease) project animals by the required deadlines. Deadlines vary by species and type of exhibit animal. Ownership of some animals is verified at required Tagging and Weighing sessions held within each County. Some Counties and Fairs have deadline dates that are earlier than those required for the State – be sure to check with your County Extension Office.

3. Animal Registration:

4-H Members must register their project animals with the Maryland 4-H Program. Use the correct 4-H Registration form.

Most Fairs require Breed Association Papers for Market and Breeding Animals to show in their respective breed classes.

  • Breed Association Papers – Purebred animals are required to be registered in the name of the exhibiting 4-H member by the required ownership date to show in breed classes. Papers are required at Fair check-in. Contact your respective breed association for details.

4. Member Certifications:

4-H Members must sign an ethical behavior agreement and complete required training programs

5. Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) Animal Health Requirements:

  • Maryland Animal Health Requirements for Health and Shows – Exhibitors must be in compliance with animal health requirements set forth by the Maryland Department of Agriculture.
  • Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) – CVIs must be completed by a Maryland Accredited Veterinarian prior to exhibition in all Maryland Fairs/Shows. A CVI is not required for Maryland equine.
  • Equine Infectious Anemia (Coggins) Testing: All equine for exhibition shall be accompanied by a valid Coggins Test done within 12 months prior to exhibition entry.
  • Self-Certification of Animal Health - Exhibitors must complete a Self-Certification of Animal Health before loading their animal for travel to any Fair/Show.

6. Fair Entry:

Each fair has its own set of governing rules and guidelines. It is important that you check with each fair that you plan to participate and read their rules fully.

  • Fair Entry Form – Exhibitors must enter their animals for each Fair/Show in accordance with its specific rules and guidelines by the entry deadline. NOTE: Fair Entry Forms are not the same thing as Maryland 4-H Registration Forms.
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