I attended my first county fair at age 8. I remember the big lights of the arena, the food booths, the friends and the memories.
“Fair Time” was a big deal in my family. We loaded up the camper, the livestock, all the show equipment and away we went.
I competed in market lamb, horse, goat, rabbit, and leadership 4-H projects and was a big time FFA member as well.
I think growing up at the county fair, not only taught me lessons about livestock, animal health and record keeping, but it taught me lots of life lessons as well.
Growing up in an agricultural background, while also attending a fairly large school, I typically was labeled a farmer girl. I was a cowgirl and lots of times my nickname was “Hickey Rikki”….basically calling me a “hick”. I really never let it bother me because I was proud of my rodeo lifestyle, but when you go to the county fair, you get to be surrounded by “your people”. That may have been one of my favorite parts. We were all into cows, horses and that western lifestyle. You never felt out of place or different. Well unless you wore a red or purple cowboy hat to show your animals.… (nobody is laughing now—-those colors are back in style). :).
The county fair taught me to be humble. Sometimes you win, you get all the ribbons, the prizes and the glory….but sometimes you lose. What really matters is the effort, the drive and the motivation you put into something. I have used this in so many areas of my life. If you try, if you give it 110%, then you know you did your best. If you didn’t, then you know there is room for improvement.
The county fair helped me understand a life cycle, a process. It showed me that things can end, but you can re-start again. When you take a market animal to the fair, you know that you won’t be taking that animal back home. It’s hard, it hurts, but it also teaches you the circle of life and how you are being a part of something so big and so important as feeding people.
Growing up in 4-H and being a part of the county fair taught me how to juggle and prioritize. People often ask me now “How do you do it all”…I know that I grew up learning to do it all.
Select your animal, figure out the best feed ration, learn to clean and show that animal, figure out your budget, keep great records, present a speech about it, write a story about it, and then figure out how to sale it.
Also, if you are an over-achiever, you’ll also take on other projects along with it. This my friends, is teaching you skills that will carry you on throughout your life.
My girls are now getting to experience the county fair and they are having so much fun. Snow-cones, friends, their animals, the rodeo, and the parade. These are the memories they get to have and it makes me so happy.
My advice- take your kids to the county fair, enroll them in 4-H, let them gain lifelong skills. You’ll be glad you did.