Eben, Kristen and James Benson and Allison Merriman have been busy preparing heifers from the Benson Farm in Gorham to show at the Fryeburg Fair.

It’s part of the annual tradition for youths in 4-H programs, but these four are especially grateful to be able to show the cows this year.

Some of the animals were trapped when tornado-force winds collapsed the Benson family’s barn on Plummer Road on the evening of July 21.

“The show animals really took it hard,” said farm owner Becky Benson.

One heifer, named Lilia, was champion of a 4-H show shortly before the day of the storm. Lilia got trapped when the barn collapsed, and suffered head and neck injuries that caused swelling. She still isn’t walking correctly, Benson said.

Just after being injured, Lilia was shown at the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass., and was named reserve champion.

“It’s not nearly the status she had earned just the week before,” Benson said. “We’re hoping she’ll recover fine from this. We’re hoping she’ll be able to carry a calf without problems.”

The yearlings that 12-year-old Allison Merriman will show, Enchanted and Sage, have recovered 100 percent. She said she spent this week washing the heifers that she plans to show, and clipped them on Thursday.

All summer, she said, she worked with the cows, walking them daily. She learned tips at summer camps about showing cows.

Benson said the cows have been resilient since being trapped in the barn.

“Cows are the coolest creatures. They are so laid-back for the most part,” Benson said. “We haven’t really had a problem at all (working with them).”

As for the destroyed barn, the rubble has been cleared and the Bensons are already rebuilding. Benson said they are thankful for all the help they have received from their family, friends and local businesses.

“They have just risen to the occasion,” Benson said. “They’ve all been very generous.”


Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]