COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — A year after bird flu forced fairs across Iowa to cancel poultry shows, the competitions are returning this summer.

The Daily Nonpareil reports ( ) that 4-H members who raise chickens are glad they’ll have a chance to show them at this year’s fairs.

Organizers banned live poultry at fairs a year ago because of the bird flu outbreak that ravaged the industry. The outbreak led to the deaths of 49 million chickens and turkeys in 15 states. Minnesota, the country’s top turkey producer, and Iowa, the top chicken-egg producer, were the hardest hit.

Both Iowa and Nebraska lifted their ban on poultry shows this year.

“I think they’re relieved,” Jenny Vincent, 4-H coordinator for the West Pottawattamie County Extension, said of her students. “You hold your breath until the point (of the fair). Nothing’s come out yet. They’re relieved they’ll be able to bring their birds this year.”

Kerri Wede with the East Pottawattamie County Extension office said the ban was “heartbreaking for the kids.” But they adapted.

Last year, some fairs held egg judging contests and some had students give presentations about their chickens. Organizers are looking forward to returning to normal this year.

But there could be fewer poultry entries this year after last year’s ban.

In northwest Iowa, Brian Hooyer said he’s looking forward to the return of poultry competitions. Last year, the ban ended his streak of 30 years in a row of participating in the Sioux County fair poultry contest.

“I hope everyone gets back on their feet and that this never happens again,” said Hooyer, whose three children will all bring poultry entries to the fair this year.

Information from: The Daily Nonpareil,