It’s county fair week around our household. That means total chaos, even more than the usual craziness and confusion. We don’t have a million 4-H projects to cart to the fair, but with three calves and numerous other projects being exhibited by three of our children, we know the week will be filled with fun, and more than a few learning opportunities. Here are a few things we’ve learned in the past from experiences at our annual county fair…
1. Calves act differently at the fair than they do at home. Last year, my daughter, Lauren, had a bucket calf that was extremely well-behaved when we practiced leading her around the farm yard at home. But, when we put her in a chain halter for the show at the fair and walked her through a barn crowded with strangers, the calf freaked out. We finally switched out the halter back to her familiar old rope halter, and she led around the show ring as good as gold.
2. Fair food is awesome – enough said. I’ll just list a few of our favorites, like caramel apples (with nuts), funnel cakes (with powdered sugar), corndogs, brats and burgers, chili, homemade pies from the church foodstands and caramel popcorn from the Boy Scout booth.
3. You learn more from a red ribbon than from a purple. Two years ago, both of our daughters trained bucket calves. One day before the fair, both calves came down with a terrible cough, so after having them checked out by the veterinarian, we made the stressful decision to keep them both home, so as not to infect other calves. Our girls finished their project record books, and walked around the show ring without their calves, but with framed pictures of their calves. They were still interviewed about their projects, and both girls did fine. It was a hard learning experience about how things sometimes go wrong, but you have to do the best you can under the circumstances, and finish what you start. And the coughs in the calves had cleared up within a couple of days.
4. Waiting until the last minute to complete projects for the fair is normal, but it causes severe anxiety for 4-H parents. When I was in 4-H, the varnish was usually a bit wet on my woodworking projects, and the paint was a little tacky on my welding displays on fair entry day. Waiting until the last minute doesn’t seem to bother the youngsters, but their parents sweat it out. This year, daughter, Taylor, has a 4-H insect display that we are sure will be finished just moments before we enter it.
5. County fairs are a great showcase for all that is good on America’s farms and ranches. Let’s see, most fairs have horses, swine, goats, sheep, beef of all classes, dairy, rabbits, poultry of all kinds, pets, dogs, cats, vegetables, crops, and hundreds of projects exhibited by 4-H and FFA members. If these exhibits do not highlight all of the best of agriculture and our farm youth, I don’t know what does.
Here is this week’s discussion question. What is your favorite aspect of your county fair? Feel free to share your comments and experiences with us here.
Husker Harvest Days at Grand Island is just around the corner. Get ready for the big show by visiting the HHD website, or by downloading the HHD app.
Check out Nebraska Farmer online for the latest news on the growing and grazing season. You can read my new print column – Bow Creek Chronicles – in Nebraska Farmer magazine, or follow Husker Home Place on Twitter. And watch this blog the last Friday of every month for my “Field Editor’s Report” featuring the positive stories about the families who raise our food. Pass it on!