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Kim Patton stands near a fence at the 2009 Laurel County Ag Fair at the fairgrounds.

Since she was just a little girl, Kim Patton has been a fixture at the Laurel County Agricultural Fair. This year, she was at it again, showing her junior Holstein calf, Chloe, around the ring and taking home the ribbons for her effort.

“I like it,” she said. “You get to raise an animal and you see your hard work. It’s really fun to see it take the class and become a grand champion.”

On Wednesday, though she’d already participated in her dairy calf competition — for which she won three class champion and one reserve champion ribbons — she was back at the Laurel County Fairgrounds helping to serve lunch.

“I’ll probably be back here tomorrow,” she said.

Over the years, Patton has developed a passion for agriculture, a love that blossomed three years ago when she joined the Future Farmers of America.

“It’s really good,” she said. “It’s a lot of real life programs where you actually learn where things come from and how this country runs based on the agricultural industry.”

Patton, who graduated from North Laurel High School this month, said the FFA and agricultural fair have both helped her develop confidence.

“FFA has helped me be more of a person that will actually stand up and take some leadership roles,” she said. “Normally, I was a shy person.”

She overcame that tendency after being asked to participate in an impromptu speech competition on feeding dairy herds. While she did not place, the experience was eye-opening.

“That prompted me to say I can step up and be an officer,” she said.

In addition to loving her experiences in FFA, she also loves farm life. She grew up on a dairy farm and spends four hours each day milking and taking care of the herd.

“I like it because it’s in the rural part of America and it’s quiet and it’s not got the hustle and bustle of the cities,” she said. “You’re kind of on your own time.”

In the fall, Patton will attend Eastern Kentucky University, where she will major in agriculture. She plans to either pursue agriculture education or become a veterinary assistant.

But next summer, she’ll be back at the Laurel County Agricultural Fair.

“I will keep raising Chloe up and hopefully she’ll be back here next year,” she said.

Staff writer Tara Kaprowy can be reached by e-mail at tkaprowy@sentinel-echo.com.

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