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By Staff | Jul 8, 2011

Fair time is approaching and it is time for me to express my opinion on one of my favorite subjects. It is a subject so important I decided to address it annually so, yes, you may have heard this before. But keep reading anyway.

County and state fairs are enjoyable for many reasons. They have lots to look at from displays to entertainment. The food is good and plentiful.

Along the way you might see someone you know, greetings will be exchanged and more than likely, there will be a visit.

While you are taking in the things on display, deciding on what looks good to eat, and just plain people watching, do not miss the best part of the fair.

Start with the livestock barns. Do not just walk through only looking at the cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, rabbits and horses, but pay attention to the young people who are washing, grooming, feeding, leading and showing these animals.

The best part of any fair is the 4-H and FFA members who, for a few days, bring their projects of livestock, restorations, creativity, and other projects to be judged.

These young people never cease to amaze me with their dedication and efforts to prepare anything, whether it is an animal, item of clothing or food; projects that require keeping a record showing their progress and results.

The next best part of the fair is the people who are working with the 4-H and FFA members; those leaders, judges, superintendents and parents who give of their time to keep everyone and everything safe and orderly.

I recommend starting where the livestock is washed. Pick a young person who you may or may not know who is washing their project in advance of judging.

They will be wearing shorts and a T-shirt, possibly rubber boots, while the animal is tied or penned and a parent is standing nearby.

Over the next hour, both the animal and young person will be transformed and when they appear in the show ring to be judged, the animal and its owner will both be groomed and ready for judging.

The animal will have been scrubbed, dried and brushed. The 4-H and FFA members will have fresh clothing on making it appear as if both animal and owner always look this way.

Months of care and preparation have come together for those minutes when the judge carefully examines each contestant’s project to decide what color of ribbon to award.

Everyone is hoping for a blue ribbon and best of all, a purple one. Then the ranking is made, colors awarded and the judge’s decision is final.

It is not only about winning. It is about preparation and competition.

These events have taken place for years and because of them, these young people will grow into adulthood learning about being responsible for a project and preparing it to the best of their ability until it is placed alongside other similar projects to be judged.

Walk through the pens, displays and judging arena to see the future leaders and doers of our country.

These are some of the best young people you will see anywhere. Whether they get the purple ribbon or not, each of them is the best of show.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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