If it seems like you just finished planting and the kids just got out of school, don't look now but many schools – even rural schools – will be back in session in four to six weeks. County fairs are either over or underway, and the Indiana State Fair is roughly a month away. Gee, how time flies when you're having fun. (Or too busy to notice!)
One of this year's Master Farmers, Kevin Cox, Brazil, noted during the panel discussion at the Master Farmer banquet last week that he worked so hard in his younger years getting the operation off the ground and surviving tough times that he missed many of his children's activities. He now wishes he had those back.
Running in circles will do that to you. As the late Paul Harvey said in the now famous Ram commercial 'God Made a Farmer,' a farmer puts in 40 hours by Tuesday noon and then works the rest of the week on top of it.
County fairs can be a time to catch your breath and reconnect with your kids. That's assuming you don't try to relive 4-H through your kids and get so caught up in winning that you miss the small joys of a county fair.
At your fair it may be giant tenderloin or walleye sandwiches fried in a trailer that wouldn't meet health inspections anywhere else, but that taste so good you don't care. It may be homemade ice cream or milk shakes better than you can buy anywhere else, at any time of the year.
Maybe it's elephant ears or crackerjack. Or maybe it's not food – maybe it's just the chance to sit on a bench under a shade tree, or pull up a lawn chair on the top of a grassy hill, as they do in Jackson County, and visit with your neighbors. For a while the cares of the day and the pace of the calendar is forgotten. Maybe it's only for a day or at most a week, but it's a change of pace many us need right now.
Me writing about the wonders of county fairs will probably seem like blasphemy to some. I'm usually saying how I don't enjoy them. I don't enjoy sitting in hot hog barns – that just makes me miserable. Eating tenderloins, milk shakes, snow cones and sitting in the shade talking to people I only see a few times a year? Now I can get into that.
So take time to be part of the county fair this year, especially if your kids are involved. Our youngest will show for the last time in a couple weeks in a county fair, ending a string of 17 years with one of our kids showing at the fair. Mom will be sad and it will be bittersweet for me. No more hot hog barns, but I'll miss seeing people. And the food! Well, hey, we can still go back and visit next year. We'll need a break about then, and I'll have a better excuse to stay out of hot barns.
Enjoy your family and your county fair together!