Tossing cow pies, holding watermelon relay highlight high school competition at Clay County Fair

Zoey Fields

Clay County public high school students are preparing for the Clay County Agricultural Fair’s annual High School Competition Night. Each year, students sign up in groups of eight to compete for their school and a cash prize toward their school program of choice.

This year’s annual High School Competition Night will be Thursday, April 7 starting at 6:30 p.m. Students participating in the event are to arrive with proper paperwork by 6 p.m. to the Clay County Fairgrounds.

The majority of teams that sign up represent the Future Farmers of America, said Alisha Hickey, superintendent for the competition, and that is typically where the cash prize ends up going.

For winning high schools without an FFA program, such as Green Cove Springs Junior/Senior High and Fleming Island High School, students still have a say in where the money should be spent, Hickey said.

First-place receives a $750 cash prize, second-place receives $400, $250 for third- place and $100 for fourth-place. In the event of a tie, students from both schools will split the combined first and second-place prize money; or third and fourth-place prize money.

Some events, such as the cow pie-toss and the pie-eating contest, have been around since Hickey began overseeing the event. The cow pie-toss is a two-person event, one boy and one girl, that involves the tossing of “cow pies,” or cow manure, into a wheelbarrow.

Cow poop for the pie toss is donated from the herd of local rancher Norma Jean Parrish, Hickey said.
Clay County High School students will compete Thursday in events such as cow pie-tossingAlisha Hickey

The other pies, the edible ones, used for the pie-eating contest, are baked and donated by the culinary students from Clay High School.

New events are incorporated into the competition each year. This years’ new addition is called the Watermelon Relay.

The Watermelon Relay incorporates all members of each team—four boys and four girls—in a single-file line facing forward. The first person in line takes the watermelon and passes it between their legs to the person behind them. The next person then takes the melon (like a quarterback takes a snap from the center) and lifts it back over their head to the next person, Hickey explained.

It is basically a game of over and under until the watermelon reaches the end. The watermelon is then passed back up to the front. The winners will be the first team to return the melon to the front with their team sitting down in the single-file line that they competed in.

This year marks Hickey’s 14th annual fair serving as the High School Competition superintendent. The concept has been around for more than 20 years, she said.

“It is something exciting for students to look forward to each year which makes it something I look forward to each year as well,” she said. “It gives them a chance to compete for what they love while taking pride in their school.”

Each high school has a say in which students can compete. Most of the schools allow students of all ages, but Middleburg High School reserves the spots strictly for the senior class, she said.

“That adds an extra layer of excitement each year because we never know which students they will be sending over for which event until the day of the competition,” Hickey said.

Students competing should gather at the main arena at the Clay County Fairgrounds by 6 p.m. Thursday. All judge’s decisions are final and any discrepancies could lead to disqualification from the event.

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Jacksonville, FL

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