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By Staff | Jul 5, 2013

Fair season is approaching, and it is time for me to give my annual reminder encouraging everyone to go to the fair and not to miss the best part of the fair.

What is the best part of the fair?

Besides the grandstand events, the food, the midway and just spending a day seeing people who are doing the same thing you are doing, the best part of the fair is in the livestock barns and displays by the 4-H and FFA members.

It is not so much the livestock and displays that are great. Well, yes, they are, but it’s those wonderful, amazing kids who have spent hours preparing their projects for the fair.

The projects can have four or two legs, long or short ears, feathers, be a family pet, made of steel or paper or cloth or wood, or on a plate or in a vase.

I have a soft spot for the livestock barn because a walk through the barn will show these young people wearing shorts and a T-shirt with a brush in one hand and a garden hose frequently in the other.

An hour later those same young people will be wearing a clean shirt and as well groomed as the animal they just spent time preparing for the judging event.

In the show ring, the animal is led, herded or pulled along as the judge looks over the entries.

The sorting begins with the better entries being selected until the top entrant receives that coveted ribbon for best of show.

It is a joyful moment for that winner and for everyone else, there’s always next year.

It is a good lesson in life. Rewards go to those who make the extra effort in their pursuit of excellence. It is the spirit of competition that makes excellence.

It is another lesson that while those extra efforts were made, the judge may not see them or they are not what the judge is looking for. Yes, it is not fair, but the judge’s decision is final.

It is another important life lesson to learn about disappointment and how to handle it, including those times when you believe the judge is wrong.

It is usually in those disappointments where we learn our best lessons and how to grow from them.

So, for any 4-H and FFA member reading this, just know if it were up to me, all of you would get a blue ribbon.

But that is not in the spirit of competition and cheapens the meaning of what a blue ribbon represents.

This is also a good time to thank those 4-H and FFA leaders who keep projects, kids and the paperwork moving. The motivation has to start somewhere and the leader is just that.

These are the people who are always there standing a few feet away, offering encouragement and making sure that the rules of safety are followed.

I find it really something that a cow, a restored tractor, a photograph and a plate of brownies all have the same thing in common.

They were made possible by parents, a leader, and of course, the exhibitor, who will be leading a bucket calf today and in coming years, a 1,300-pound steer that is halter broke.

It is definitely the best of show.

See you at the fair.

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

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