My opinion of county fairs expressed last week hasn't changed. I just endured mine. It was a long week, but the kids had fun. There were highs, like a grand champion with foods, and plenty of lows, like lots of green ribbons with sheep. All in all, it was what county fairs are - a training ground for kids.
Reports from various county fairs produced three stories I've just got to share. The imagination in these three instances is incredible, and can show what happens when rural people get together.
First, I hear that the annual pig wrestle at the Putnam County Fair went quite well. Teams of either kids or adults climb inside a mud bog, dug out and soaked up just for the occasion, and try to catch a pig. If they catch it, they place it inside a tire in the middle of the pen, signifying that they accomplished their purpose. The team that does it the fastest in each age division wins.
Now lest PETA get too upset, remember what pigs like more than anything else - mud. To the pig, it's probably just like fighting another pig to see who can get the dirtiest, and get the choice spot within the mudhole. From what I heard, the people slogging around in the mud with the pig probably got dirtier than the pig did. And yes, I'm told it's almost guaranteed that the local paper will carry a letter to the editor next week about someone complaining that the event is animal cruelty.
Then there's the 'little britches' race, or some such thing, from the Benton County Fair held in Oxford. Apparently, it's a contest to see how long kids can ride an animal, only it's not bronc busting with steers - it's with sheep. Again, animal welfare and kids rights spokespersons, sheep are docile and a kid riding the back of a big sheep isn't likely to hurt it any - the sheep, that is.
One sidenote from that event: The winner, the fastest kid who stayed on all the way, rode a ram called Podunk. The animals were supplied by the local sale barn operator. Podunk at one time was a breeding ram, until he butted heads one two many times with rams bigger than him. Nobody said sheep were smart. From what I hear, he is better as a racing sheep than at passing on good genes!
Finally, there's the Johnson County Fair Farmer Olympics, with a crowd of 500 or more watching as people toss straw bales, compete in sack and wheelbarrow races, and the like. There were two highlights - a slow-motion mishap whereby Dough Abney, a mid-40's hay farmer and Eli Lilly Maintenance supervisor, went over the top of the wheelbarrow when his wife, Sherry, a lawyer with Ice Miller in Indianapolis, went under the wheelbarrow. Doug did a complete flip, landed on his back, and somehow, got up and walked away, just like many race car drivers do after a bad wreck. They later competed in the egg toss.
Speaking of the egg toss, it produced a first in the 25-year history of this event. Half way through, one team was eliminated when the young lady receiving dropped her egg. It was Emily Stewart, a FFA member and '08 graduate of Franklin Community High School. Normally, when the egg breaks, the team member walks off. Their night of egg tossing is done.
Not this time. The announcer for the event, Bruce Findlay, a local auctioneer, says, "Young lady, hold on, this young man wants to ask you a question."
You guessed it, not 10 feet away from me, right there in the green sawdust of the show arena, he bent down on one knee, produced a ring box from his hip pocket, and asked her to marry him. There was a moment's hesitation, then she jumped into his arms, apparently said yes and, well, you know, the mushy kissing stuff happened. His name is Tyler Hardin, also a '08 graduate.
I asked Emily later is she knew it was coming at the Egg Toss. No, she insists, she was completely surprised. "But I did wonder why my family were all in the stands just to watch me do the egg toss," she mused.
Without the wedding proposal, crowd might have been 350 or so. Good thing the egg toss was our last event!
Try that story out on someone who claims they've heard everything. As always, it's 100% true!