Best of the fair
If what you are about to read sounds familiar that is because this is something I write about every year around this time.
Fair time is approaching and county fairs remain a great attraction to spend a day or several days. You can go for the foods, the entertainment, the competition for ribbons, see people you know, admire the displays of everything from new machinery to flower arrangements, watch the kids have fun on the midway, or just find a comfortable spot and watch the people go by.
While all that is going on, do not miss one of the best parts of the fair where the 4-H and FFA members are getting ready for the judging of their projects. My favorite is the livestock barn, but there are other places where these wonderful young people have created, built, restored, cooked, sewn, and even more verbs that describe the months of preparation leading up to the fair and the judging.
Do not just wander through the area where these projects are kept. Stop and watch what these mostly teens and near teens are actually doing in those final moments of preparation.
I have watched the perennial favorites of cattle, hogs and sheep being judged, but I have also watched rabbits and chickens undergo the same scrutiny from a judge as the young members almost hold their breath, hoping the judge is pleased with what is being evaluated.
Take time before the judging event to look where the animals are being prepared, especially where the cattle, hogs, or sheep are being washed and groomed.
There you will see a young person dressed in shorts, T-shirt, and rubber boots holding a garden hose in one hand and a brush or container of soap in the other, cleaning their project for the last time unless they get the honor of advancing to the next level of judging, probably at the state fair.
A short time later, those same young people have transformed themselves to wearing clean shirts, probably jeans and a good pair of shoes, their own hair neatly combed and hands that have been scrubbed as clean as they have ever been.
They enter the judging arena, hoping for the best, knowing that the judge’s decision is final. The many hours spent preparing for this moment shows in the animal’s behavior around people as they are used to being held and touched.
Those who are awarded top prizes are ecstatic as are their family members, and for everyone else, there is always next year.
The projects are awarded ribbons as prizes, but the real awards are the young people who participate. They are learning about working for a goal and the care and discipline necessary to achieve that goal, knowing that the judge’s decision may not match their own.
They are being prepared for life with its hopes, rewards, and disappointments, and the importance of persevering, regardless of the outcome.
It is the leaders and those responsible for the fair that make this possible, most of them working as volunteers, building confidence and instilling pride.
County fairs are a great showcase for our way of life and those people whose spirit of competitiveness and excellence prepare them for today and the future.
Be sure to take in the county fair or fairs of your choice. This is your annual reminder.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.