The voice over the loudspeaker said "good morning and welcome to the 2013 version of the Utah State Fair" moments before Thursday's 10 a.m. opening of the 11-day exposition, but it was obvious there was still much work to be done.
At the goat barn, for example, 6-year-old Hannah and 8-year-old Madison Massey, of Vernal, helped their mom, Katie, unload goats from a trailer.
"This is a great time and a great learning experience for the girls," said Katie Massey. "It teaches responsibility, animal husbandry, financial responsibility and how to work as a team."
Eighth-grader Alexia Poulson, of Clinton, said she prepared her goats for the fair by washing them, working with them on an obstacle course and making sure they looked good.
At the nearby cow barn, a father lectured his son about how to move sawdust while Michelle Andersen, of Wellsville, gave one of her animals a bath at the "cow wash."
"I'm ready to take a cold shower with water myself," she grinned. "The worst part is cleaning poop off the cow."
Jared England, of Nephi ,wielded an electric grooming tool to give a cow a haircut, tidying up the animal for the judges as well as the close to 300,000 people expected to attend this year's fair.
"I don't make money doing this," he said. "It's mostly an enjoyable thing."
Operations worker Moses Gutierrez worked feverishly to get a restroom towel machine ready just as the gates opened. He was one of dozens in bright clean shirts preparing the grounds.
"As soon as you get it clean," he said, "you get out of the way."
The butter sculpture, a fair staple since 1998, was still a work in progress with slices of butter on the ground. It was taking shape, though, looking like a farmer holding the rear legs of a cow with a chicken, goose and pig as parts of the action. The sculpture uses 700 pounds of butter saved from last year, enough to lather 19,200 slices of toast.
It opens daily at 10 a.m. through Sept. 15 at 1000 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and youth and free from children ages five and under.
For the daily schedule and more information, go to http://www.utahstatefair.com.