Tuesday, November 21, 2017
News Roundup

Hop on the camel ride at the Hernando County Fair

RECOMMENDED READING


BROOKSVILLE

As Patty Morrison arrived at the Hernando County Fair over the weekend with her 3-year-old granddaughter, Brooke Carver, the young girl immediately knew what she wanted to do. "I want to ride the camel," Brooke told her grandmother.

She took the hand of Dave Morrison of Palm Bay as he helped her up the six steps to the camel mounting platform. Yes, that's the height of Eli the dromedary's back.

"No fear of nothing," Patty Morrison, of Spring Hill, said with a smile as she watched Brooke slide onto the color blanket that padded the saddle.

"She saw (the camels) when we drove in," Morrison said.

Brooke grasped the front rail of the three-quarter enclosure for the rider. She alternately ducked her head beneath the rail or raised her chin over it to smile at her grandmother as owner Will Caton led Eli around the small track for a $5 ride.

Dismounting, the shy tot whispered, "It was fun."

Camel rides are a new feature at this year's county fair, and they're proving quite popular.

Caton said he provides the platform rather than allowing riders to mount the animal from its sitting position because camels "spring up," and novice riders often fall off.

Plus, repeated sitting and standing tires the beasts.

Caton brought 8-year-old Eli and 5-year-old Sampson to the fair from his Bar C Ranch in Berryville, Va. It was a good excuse to visit his dad, Dave Morrison, and for the two to take the attraction to the Brevard County Fair in Melbourne, near where Morrison lives.

"I handle the camels; my dad handles the people," Caton said.

At his ranch in Virginia, Caton keeps a third camel, plus more than 100 other animals of 42 species. The family's usual fair circuit, including a petting zoo and pony rides, takes a path through Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with New York and Massachusetts added this year.

"This far," Caton said of the trip to Florida, "I decided just to bring the camels. I like the smaller fairs. I like the agricultural fairs."

Eli and Sampson could have walked here. Informational placards explain that a camel's foot design enables endurance, how multiple eyelashes and eyelids keep out grit, and the difference between dromedary and Bactrian camels.

The ride sways front to back.

"It's bumpy. That's what everybody says," Caton said.

The hard seat precludes a long trek. A more comfortable utilitarian saddle is employed for longer rides.

Each of Caton's steel saddle frames is hand built to fit each camel's hump, the handler explained.

"If they go without food or water, the hump will shrink," he said.

Caton's dromedaries never go lacking, which is obvious from their healthy coats of hair and pleasant demeanors. Camels, notorious for spitting, "only do it when they're mad," Caton said, and Eli and Sampson don't spit.

Instead, they nuzzle a visitor's hand with velvety, tactile lips, especially if the hand offers up feed pellets, available for 25 cents at the stand.

Their friendliness also is fostered in early temperament training, which begins with bottle feeding as young as 10 days. Sampson's introduction was at 10 days; Eli's at 3 weeks.

At home, the gelded male stablemates munch on treats of apples and carrots. When multiple 2-pound sacks of Stouffer's animal crackers are loaded, the camels know they're going on a trip.

They are rewarded with an animal cracker after each lap around the ring.

Beth N. Gray can be contacted at [email protected]

Comments

St. Petersburg council passes living wage ordinance

ST. PETERSBURG — An ordinance requiring certain city contractors to pay workers a minimum of $12 an hour was approved by City Council members Thursday with some amendments. The living wage ordinance applies to businesses with major city contracts pro...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

NTSB report details steep turns and dives preceding Roy Halladay’s fatal crash

Before he crashed, Roy Halladay flew within 75 feet of houses and skimmed the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a report published Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.The report, which did not address the cause of the crash, ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

Blasts at plant kill 1, injure dozens

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. — Authorities recovered the body of a male worker reported missing after two explosions and a fire at a New York cosmetics factory left 30 to 35 people injured, including seven firefighters caught in the second blast, officials said...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

TAMPA — The number of sexual assaults reported to officials at MacDill Air Force Base has decreased dramatically during the past three years even as reports across the military have increased slightly, new Pentagon statistics show.Officials at MacDil...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Florida A&M football coach Alex Wood resigns

TALLAHASSEE — Alex Wood resigned as Florida A&M football coach Monday, two days after the Rattlers completed their season. Athletic director Milton Overton Jr. said offensive line coach Edwin Pata, a former FSU tight end, will serve as interim coach....
Updated: 6 hours ago

PORT RICHEYWoman accused of beating boy, 4, with hangerA Port Richey woman was arrested on a charge of felony child abuse after a 4-year-old boy in her care told deputies she hit him with a clothes hanger, leaving bruises, the Pasco County Sheriff’s ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
‘I tried,’ mother of killer Adam Matos says at sentencing

‘I tried,’ mother of killer Adam Matos says at sentencing

NEW PORT RICHEY — His family described him as a loving, kindhearted father. His neighbors regarded him as quiet and respectful. His friends recalled him as "happy-go-lucky," a "laid-back, fun guy."Thirteen witnesses told of a softer side of Adam Mato...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 6 hours ago