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Veteran Contributor

Re: The County Fair

I think when you as a parent have helped to teach a calf to lead or a sheep to stand with your child for months before the fair you tend to take that competition very seriously. You know how much it means because of all the work your child put into it. I remember one winter, the water line froze out to the barn. So, my kids had to carry pails of water every morning across the farm yard to water their calves every morning before they got on the bus. They'd knock their pails against their legs because they were so heavy and get their pants wet and they would freeze solid. We hooked those calves up to the back of the pickup and PULL them along like they were water skiing until they learned to follow.  We showed cattle, sheep and hogs. They took photography exhibits for many many years.  All kinds of crafts, including refinishing furniture. All year long we had meetings at friends homes and here at ours.  Friendships were formed all year, not just the week of the fair. The truly big deal for my girls were their horses.  They showed Western Pleasure and started out on theri ponies going over bridges and opening mailboxes. The psychology of horses was something that taught them discipline and how to stick with something. Life lessons that were learned that school just cannot teach. Like, you have to do a job whether you want to or not, whether or not it is pleasant or not and you take the failure or success equally as well with a smile. No poor losers in the ring or out. Scooping manure is not fun, but it is necessary and you will do it without being asked because that is YOUR animals, your friend, and they are in your care.My son especially like the dog obedience. He had a wolf/malamute that qualified to go to state and a few weeks later, someone stole him.  Have you ever tried to train a wolf? That kid worked his butt off!  All three of my kids are terrific workers in their chosen fields now, one wants to be a veterinarian. Obviously the lessons learned in 4-H and on our farm have helped to form their work ethic and judgment.

 

Our county fair is very small, it is dieing. There are so few farm families left out here, I dont' know how much longer it can go on.  But, for the years that it was booming when my kids were in, it was a very big deal to them and it was big for our whole family preparing for it. Win or lose, it took a year to get there. My kids made it to state a few times, but we'd go almost every year anyway to see the exhibits of others and get ideas.  I don't think the next generation will have the opportunity to do the 40H projects as their parents won't be farmers. I didn't like it when our 4-H leader sent her daughters horses to be trained by the Amish and they arrived the week before fair or another family would pay huge bucks for their show cattle when we just picked ours out of our herd, but as stated before, that is life. It isn't always fair, and that is what you learn at the FAIR! Smiley Happy 

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jennylynn122196
Senior Reader

Re: The County Fair

I totally agree with old and rusty!!!!!!  Sorry to hear that your county fair is dieing.  That truely makes me very sad.  Just as you put it all the life lessons learned through the whole fair process are so very valuable in life.  I could go on and on all day how wonder the fair is but i won't.  Smiley Happy

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Honored Advisor

Re: The County Fair

That whole thing of parents cheating the system so their kids can win is such a crazy dynamic. 

To me,it is one thing to help a child do their best, by providing them a decent setup for raising the animals, giving them reminders to engage in their care and training; but, it's quite another to park them in front of a lamb someone else has trained to lead, or stick them into a saddle on a horse they hardly know. 

As a teacher, you always knew which children actually worked on their own science fair projects, and which ones got handed their Mom's version ot present.  When I left teaching and got invited back to judge Science Fair, I always paid more attention to eh interview part fo the project, since the parents couldn't fake that for them...either the kid knew about their subject or they did not.  I really think it is a lot on the judges to make it a less disgusting event. 

Maybe that is harder to do in livestock or horse judging, just because of the nature of the event.  Maybe this is a dumb question, but I was not in 4-H but one year, and that was cooking and stuff.  (My mother's ideea of a goo project to present was an orange and onion on raisin bread sandwich - no big leg up there!!!) but I thought that kids had to  keep a project book when they raised an animal.  I thought it detailed feeding and care...right?  Do the cheaters buy that or just forge one???

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Senior Contributor

Re: The County Fair

It wasn't hard to tell which child had worked with their animal and which ones hadn't.

 

I always tried to tell the kids it was more important too have a good clean time than it was to win.  They of course took dairy.  They had their favorite animals that they took year after year, as long as the animal was able just because they loved the animal.   My oldest son's old red cow probably went 6 years.  She went as a dry cow her last year.  It was so funny.  Time to show her, she walked into the ring.  just barely cleared the gates, set herself up perfectly and would not move again.  Had a very good natured judge that year.  She said, "well the old girl knows what she's doing, so we'll just let her stand there."  Judge really liked her too.  Took her a long time to decide if she wanted to place that old dry cow as reserve champion or not. Then they also had to work with and train animals that were really more fair worthy.

 

At first we only took heifers, no milking animals.  Then one year one daughter won reserve grand with a heifer.  I'm sorry to say our own club leader got very upset about it.  Got together with some of the other club leaders, the FFA advisor and argued that the auction crowd would not understand my daughter selling a "symbolic" can of milk from an animal without an udder.  So they took the prize away from my 8 year old daughter.  She was crushed.  That forever changed fair for everyone.  It became very competitive and pricey for some.  A lot of people spent a lot of money on hogs and sheep and steers after that.  I don't think a year went by when there wasn't some controversy about one of the winners.

 

Even with all that "adult" stuff going on behind the scene they kids managed to thoroughly enjoy fair year after year.  Then a few years ago they lost the use of the land that everyone had used for camping.  Camping had to be moved almost a mile away from the barns when before it had been just steps away.  That truely changed fair.  Kids were no longer in and out of the barns all day long.  The kids were camped out at the campground now and you saw more and more parents going through the barns to take care of animals and even do the hour at a time official "barn duty" each child had to do in any species barn they had animals in.

 

Now the fair is slowly dying.  There is no dairy show anymore.  There are only maybe 6 grade A dairies in the county and we're the only one with a child eligible to take to the fair and he chooses not to.  Not much fun if you're the only one there.  There never were any commercial herds at this fair.  Still exhibits were always minimal at this fair.  That kind of stuff only happens if you have a leader or leaders that want to make it happen.

 

Pretty much everyone who farms no longer has kids of 4H age.  My husband sits on a FSA county committee and they had a woman wanting to know if the government would help her put up a building on her farm so her grandkids could have fair animals.  She lives on an old farmstead with many buildings but apparently her grandkids need new. 

 

Also it seems the only financially healthy fairs around here are the ones that spend the big bucks to get the "big" shows. 

 

There is a county fair this summer and we will go to the auction night.  We always buy a couple of animals.  But I will be surprised if the fair continues very many more years.

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Senior Contributor

Re: The County Fair

County fair was a big thing to us kids growing up.  We worked hard on our 4-H projects through out the year to earn a coveted State Fair trip later on in the summer.  I grew up taking small projects such as cooking, needle arts and shooting sports projects and we also showed hogs.  Our hogs came from our farrowing operation which was a mutt operation of Great White sows and Hampshire boars.  Around May we got to pick out our fair animals and start working with the pigs.  I remember one year I picked out the fattest barrow...why...cause he was fat and duh, everyone knew pigs were suppose to be fat.  LOL  Anyways, my dad and uncle kept on telling me I was getting a red ribbon...I didn't care I really liked that pig.  I would let him out of the pen to walk and he'd walk from the pen to the big mud puddle and back to his pen.  Come fair time he spent most of the time trying to get OUT of the show ring and by trying to jump out of the corner...I'm pretty sure he was just shy.  LOL  Anyways, I somehow ended up with Grand Champion Barrow that year.  Fair time meant that we had to take a shift at the food building when it was our clubs turn to serve.  I didn't show FFA only 4-H and because of county fair and state fair I met so many people all across the state.  For us, county fair was almost a summer vacation even though we still had chores to do at home. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: The County Fair to Kay

Since the powers that be seem to think  that no child should be denied..   record books are no longer required to show or recieve your 4-H premium.   If you want to elgible for the awards and the occasionaly trip you have to fill out your record book.   We never found any 4-H scholarships for our daughter to apply for  but her 4-H records did help her win some.   Also, the ablity to fill out records in 4-H and FFA helped her know how to fill out scholarship applications.   

 

The county fair was my life.   It provided me with friends.   In my school we were made fun of because our dad was a farmer and a pig farmer.   At the county fairs we had many friends and respect of many in the community.   I showed steers.   Most came my grandpa's unregistered Hereford herd.   Some I went to sales and bought.   And some came out of my cows.   Then we got into purebred Hampshire Hogs.   I didn't show hogs till I was 17.   But... we did have the pick of the 50 sow herd.    We were one of the families you had to beat.   We prided ourselves on not cheating. 

 

We could spend the whole week  at the fair and never go to the "carny".   Demo derbys, tractor pulls and the joey chitwood thrill show never thrilled us.   If we were done showing for the day we would watch the harness races fromt he back side of the track where the horses came and went from the horse barns. 

 

My kids showed too.   When we started showing hogs at our co. fair the hogs and showmanship were a JOKE.  No one had any idea of quality.   Just go out and pick a bunch of hogs so each kid had 2 pigs in every class.  Being outsiders we were accused of cheating because we showed up and won.     But,  after a few years, people who knew us realized we weren't cheating and the quality of the hogs and showmanship increased.    

 

I am not in favor of kids spending big bucks to buy a show animal.   All of my kid's show cattle were bred, born and raised on this farm.    The show pigs....   some my dad provided.   But, they were on the farm by the required date and cared for by the kids.   Some,  pigs came from our farm.   The Grand Champion Barrow that was born on this farm was one very proud moment.  By that time many in our county had started trying.   

 

I think growing hair is a total waste.    My t-shirt would say.  " Someone tell me what hair tastes like"   with a picture of hair around a juicy steak.  

 

I still spend 1 day a year helping with the Co. Hog Show.  This year my daughter is coming back to judge the 4-H competitions in:  hogs, cattle, bucket calves and dairy.   It will be a very proud moment for me.  

 

My DH hated the fair.  He showed up show day and looked like a lost puppy.  Couldn't wait to go home.  A lot of people at the fair wondered if I was a single mom.   My kids did miss out on having the "family experience"  with fairs.   But,  they did get the experience at the co and state fair. 

 

 

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: The County Fair

Taking away the prize from a deserving animal was an immature act. It also was a disservice to the judge that they paid for the unbiased opinion. Some fairs auction ribbons to get around sale of animals.

I know that some kids first experience with hog raising was at the fair, which wasn't all bad. They got a taste of swine husbandry. Given proper guidance, they dealt with it with maturity and didn't make a negative appearance. With all the cheating (illegal drugs, switching animals, and some abuse) that has gone on in the country the last few years, it is not surprising that kids have jump through many more hoops to exhibit livestock.

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Highlighted
Frequent Contributor

Re: The County Fair

My boys are all done now.  I worked their butts off the first six weeks school was out each year on top of their show calves so we could devote the last half to showing.  I let them "compete" on their show animals".  Hair, glue, paint, but their was usually extremely good animals under there.  Fact is you just cant grow enough hair to turn a county fair steer into a show steer.  I figure it this way.  They played by the rules, and it sure beat what most of their classmates were doing.  They drew very definite lines of distinction between competition.  The most fun they ever had was taking cow calf pairs to the three area county fairs every year.  Slick cows.  They bred for later in the year because their cows were former show heifers.  By breeding late, the focus of the judge on there pair would remain on the cow as month or two old calves are harder to determine.  Thy also enjoyed "bred and owned" classes.  Gary won county fair, ffa, and a neighboring county fair showmanship within three weeks by three differant judges.  Since their was so many levels of competition to shine on, I taught them to be undaunted by those who criticized their love of fitting and DEVELOPING one show animal per year.  The dedication to grow the right kind of hair in the winter and to feed the animal was extreme.  That is a good lesson.  I am glad that they took a string of home raised breeding stock many years.  But after about age 12 they just would not have gone to State Fair, Duquoin or all the winter shows with an animal that wasnt at least trying to compete.  We took personal victories.  Money spent on a show animal was determined by how many years each boy had left an so forth.  I can proudly say we never spent over $3,000 for a steer or $5,000 on a heifer so the real victory was beating animals we knew sold for 10,000!  But again... perspective... is needed.  Participating in that kind of competition did not in any way take from the joy of showing cow calf pairs or heifers and occasionally a steer, they raised themselves.  It's two differant things.  They enjoyed both.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: The County Fair

To bad the fair's-- small town's---country life has been replaced with high speed nothing's---Country schools sent men to the moon--Now we have to have a degree to be a cashier at the mall..O well that's trickle down economic's of the last century that we are harvesting now???  

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Veteran Contributor

Re: The County Fair

My husband and I were both in 4-H and showed dairy animals. We showed at the County (different ones) Fair and at the Iowa State Fair. That was when they had a healthy (60 heifers in a class) show there. We now live in Wisconsin, when we moved here the county fair had a large open class show in addition to a large junior show. There are a lot fewer animals shown now, our kids are involved here now. We do not spend big bucks on animals. Most have our own prefix and we lend out some for managerial projects for kids who don't have any to show. They also show at the District Holstein Show, the State Holstein Show, State Fair, and the last 4 years our son has exhibited at World Dairy Expo. The kids have made many friends they wouldn't have if it wasn't for the fairs.

I met my husband through showing at the fairs. My brother met his wife at the county fair. I know of several other couples who have met through fair activities. Our county fair is still doing well. Open class crops, flowers, baking and needlework. Still lots of exhibits of the youth also. For activities, there is the carnival with wristband times, harness racing, tractor pull, pickup pull and last year for the first time a demo derby the last night. For that the grandstand was about empty. The youth horse show is really big.

It is an experience that I am glad I had and had the opportunity to provide for my kids.

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