1. Family pride.
I began showing cattle at age 8. To do this, I needed lots of help from my parents and family to ensure not only my safety, but the safety of my calves. Show persons build relationships not just with their supporters before the show ring, but create stronger bonds with our family members. Weihl Farms has always raised Shorthorns and being proud of our culture has developed through exhibiting animals at the fair. Children and young adults who don't raise their own, but purchase livestock from other breeders, feel this same passion and connectedness among family because of the fair. The photo above is my dad and I showing heifers in open class from 2008.
|Proper management of animals includes their health. We|
don't just wash them, take care of their hair and clip them
to make them look "pretty". It also keeps them healthy.
3. Don't cry over a spilled milkshake, clean up the mess, get a new one, and move on.
To accompany responsibility, attitude is its counterpart. As this subtitle says, you can enjoy your milkshake until it gets spilled or you can learn from your mistake of knocking it over and get a new one to enjoy. It is kind of the glass half full vs. glass half empty effect. Having a positive attitude can make all the difference and many at county fairs have a great one!
Students learn friendly competition early. If you began showing a species of animal, you will typically see the same friends and competitors judging against you. This competition builds motivation and work ethic for you to want to improve your skills. After a challenging day in the show ring, it is good to learn to shake hands with the other young adults and understand how you did well and what they did well. Then, make adjustments for next year.
5. King and Queen contestants are all royalty.
In opening fair parades, you see fair royalty in a front carriage or vehicle to welcome guests into the grounds. At my fair, we recognize many students who are candidates for these positions. Lucky for us, the selected "court" aren't the only royalty present. In sports analogies, they say "you can't win the game if you don't go out and play". This is also true for participation at the county fair. With over 40 candidates depending on the fair vying for royalty positions, we can't forget that all of these youth are deserving. If they don't win the position, it is OK. They participated. How do you often learn most? When you are disappointed or experience failure. These candidates are all learners and because they participated, they can take that experience into their future.
|My cousin Sara and I competed for fair queen for two|
years each. I never was selected for court but Sara became
queen her second year running!
6. You can pet my goat, but only if you wash your hands.
Education and advocacy play a large role at county fairs. Buy a hamburger from the county beef producer's stand. Talk to a student getting ready to show their animals. They will help educate and advocate for what they do and why they do it. It isn't always about the rewards. Sometimes, they do it just for fun or to help educate you as a fairgoer.
|My sister Kelly and I in 2009 with one of her goats|
waiting to show. Fairgoers will typically approach us to
pet the animal and in that moment, we get a chance to
educate them about livestock production.
If it's your first fair or your last, you know that once that auctioneer says "SOLD" or the final flag waves at the demolition derby, it is time to pack and up and head home. Many exhibitors face the "end of fair effects". They don't want to go home or say goodbye to their animals for the last time. However, realization to acknowledge your successes and improvements at the fair make these young people leaders.
I also hope you will share your thoughts with others by commenting, sharing on social media or by contacting state associations and government officials. Let's keep funding for fairs so we can have #FairFriday in the future.