Youth make money, flex entrepreneurial skills at Douglas County fair

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There were chores galore on Friday as 4-H club members and other youth tended to their booths during the Douglas County Fair.

Eudora siblings Anna and Thomas Tochtrop cleaned up after their Boer goats in the Open Pavilion. Working together, they scooped the pens and put down fresh bedding.


For Anna, 16, belonging to the Eudora 4-H Club has helped her hone responsibility and accountability.

“It’s something that I wanted to do because I always liked animals,” she said. “The first goat I showed was in sixth grade.”

Eventually, she added entries in poultry, cattle, photography, clothing, food and art. This year she earned grand champion with a Shorthorn steer and second in her class with a wether goat.

Outside the pavilion, Axel Lavalette, 10, proudly displayed the bracelets he wove for sale alongside sweets by Sissy’s Mini Donuts – a family venture.

Axel Lavalette

“This is the Maple Pig. It’s our special for this week,” Chef Axel said while pointing to a plate of gooey treats. “It’s cinnamon, sugar, syrup and bacon.”

Founded by his late aunt, Sissy Falley, the business is owned by Axel’s grandparents Rick and Diane Falley. Together with their grandchildren, they’re crafting cake, cinnamon-sugar and powdered donuts in lots of six and 10.

Rick said his family was gearing up for a busy Friday night with the demolition derby slated for 7:30 p.m. They planned to return Saturday morning for a 16-hour day.

Axel said he’s used to long hours during fairtime, and he doesn’t mind. His mom, Candice Lavalette, serves as executive administrator for the fair board.

Now in his third year as a member of the Jayhawk 4-H Club, Axel entered projects with Legos, pottery, sewing, cooking, forestry and fashion modeling.

“On my modeling, I got a reserve (champion ribbon). I had green cotton-lined pants, brown fur boots, and I had a cream shirt and a blue and tan flannel.”

Across the fairgrounds, Cooper Barnes managed the ever-popular petting zoo. At only 8 years old, Cooper co-owns the furry critters inside the pens with his grandfather. The family traveled across the state line from Pleasant Hill, Missouri, with their animals.

“This is as far as I’ve been,” Cooper said, referring to his summer work schedule.

The free petting zoo, open from 1 to 9:30 p.m., offers fairgoers a chance to interact with miniature donkeys, goats, sheep, a llama, a kangaroo and a cavy, which is a large rodent. Cooper sells cups of food for $3, $5 and $10, ranging from small to large.

Tricia Masenthin / Lawrence Times Cooper Barnes feeds his animals at the petting zoo during the Douglas County Fair on July 29, 2022.

Unloading and loading up the roving petting zoo are Cooper’s favorite part of owning his own business.

“I get to be with the animals, and that’s a lot of fun. When they’re at home, I like to go in the pen with them. They like to follow me around.”

The Douglas County Fair continues through Saturday at the fairgrounds, 2120 Harper St. Some of the free activities include exhibits, livestock shows, the petting zoo and musical performances by Scott Heidner and the Nashville Guys from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday.


Tickets for Friday’s Demolition Derby and Saturday’s Bull Bash are still on sale at for $15 or at the fair board office. Both events begin at 7:30 p.m.

Food, beverages and carnival rides are also available for purchase. Bracelets that permit unlimited ride access cost $35. Discount bracelets will be available for carnival rides on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m.

For the latest schedule information, visit the fair’s Facebook page or website.

Tricia Masenthin / Lawrence Times Gage New slices lemons while Gloria Noll readies the booth to sell Crazy Good Lemonade during the Douglas County Fair.
Tricia Masenthin / Lawrence Times Sissy’s Mini Donuts
Tricia Masenthin / Lawrence Times Cooper Barnes and his roving petting zoo animals
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Tricia Masenthin (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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