Westport Equipment used to hold youth horse shows during the Essex County Fair has come up missing three weeks after the annual festival.
According to Linda Gilliland of Cornell Cooperative Extension, eight 10-foot galvanized ranch panels were stolen from the fairgrounds’ horse show ring Aug. 19.
“An eyewitness stated that a dark colored pickup truck drove onto the fairgrounds and stopped at the cattle show ring,” Gilliland said. “Two men got out and proceeded to load up the ranch panels into their truck bed. They were very quiet loading up the panels but drove off in a big hurry.”
The panels are valued at over $100 each and are used to help provide a secure location for 4-H youth members to work with their livestock.
Gilliland said the panels were paid for through fundraising efforts by members of the Essex County 4-H organizations.
“It took several years for our 4-H youth, their tireless leaders and adult volunteers to collect and return enough recyclables and hold bake sales to purchase these panels to provide a safe and secure place to work with their horses, cattle, sheep, goats and hogs,” she said. “Although these men may have thought they were stealing from the Fair, they should be aware they were actually stealing from children.”
Along with use by 4-H, the panels were also loaned out to people who needed temporary enclosures for animals.
“Our 4-H members have graciously loaned out these portable panels in time of community need such as when the Evens family experienced a devastating barn fire or when the Fair needed to use them to set up temporary stalls for animal exhibits,” Gilliland said.
If anyone has any information, please contact the New York State Police or Cornell Cooperative Extension.