Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fair Memories

The Platte County Fair is going on this week and that brings back a lot of fun memories.

When I was "4-H age" (age 8-18 as of January 1st of that year) my sisters and I were very active in 4-H. We sewed, cooked, learned how to garden, and gave demonstrations. I remember trying to find 4 or 5 IDENTICAL beans or beets or tomatoes to take to the fair--they had to be the same size, shape, and color to qualify for a blue or purple ribbon. I remember sewing that last button on my dress (one year my very elaborate dress had about 10 buttons on each cuff, and another 15 or 20 buttons down the front!) on the way to the fair. I remember seeing friends I hadn't seen all summer, and eagerly looking to see how we'd done on our projects.

I remember mom teaching us how to measure ingredients accurately and helping us sew perfect seams and teaching us how to make buttonholes. Looking back, I know that I didn't appreciate her endless patience as she taught us—thanks mom! Through 4-H we learned not only the practical lessons of how to make muffins or sew a hem, but lessons about following directions and working hard to make our entries perfect. We also learned life-lessons of confidence and talking to adults as we modeled our clothes and talked to judges about our other entries.

Until Cody and Morgan were 4-H age and showed at the fair I didn’t realize how much parents looked forward to the too. We share secret smiles with other parents in the early morning hours as we rush between animal pens or back to the truck to get a forgotten item. It's the tears of pride we try to hide (but other parents always understand) when our kids do well...the swelling of our hearts when we see siblings helping each other or other kids when an animal gets loose or someone needs a word of encouragement.

Early morning sheep washing
It's why we put the (seemingly) endless dollars and hours into projects, why we wake our kids up early (even when they're crabby) to take care of an animal or work on a project, why we practice patience as we teach (sometimes over and over!) our kids a new skill.  We know it's not just the ribbons they'll get during the fair, it's the life-long lessons the kids will take with them (like going back into the ring for dog agility after your dog took a detour out of the ring and around the whole building), and hopefully pass on to their kids someday.

This is the first year since the new millennium that neither Cody nor Morgan is showing an animal at the fair. It’s bittersweet for me because there were so many wonderful family moments at the fair.

One of my favorite memories is the year both Cody and Morgan were in the same class of showmanship during the cattle show. After several rounds, they were the only two left, competing against each other for the championship. For more than 20 minutes they were the only ones in the ring, leading and setting up their animals, watching the judge, and doing everything “just right.” Neither of them made a mistake. Finally the judge asked them to switch places in the ring…and Morgan turned her calf counterclockwise instead of clockwise. And that was it; Cody was the champion. But it was a friendly competition and both were happy at how they’d done!

Another great memory is the year my parents and grandfather came to the fair. It was so neat to share the experience with them; although we’d exhibited at many fairs as kids, my sisters and I never showed animals. It was a very hot year, but mom and dad and grandpa sat patiently through the sheep show and the cattle show. Cody and Morgan were so proud and happy to have them there and answered all of their questions about showing.

For two memorable (and very tiring) years in a row, Morgan showed sheep, cattle, and dogs. That meant three days in a row of being to the fair before 6:00 AM and showing for much of the day. Morgan did a great job and won several trophies…but agreed that showing three different species was just too much.

Today and tomorrow Morgan will be cheering on several friends as they show their sheep and pigs for the last time at the county fair. Tomorrow she and Cody will be helping our neighbor’s kids show their cattle for the very first time.

Good luck at your county fair, everyone! Cherish those memories!

1 comment:

  1. Love this. You can do it again with grandkids eventually !


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