County Fair Time
Kids across Wyoming are putting the finishing touches on their fair projects, making sure their show clothes are in order and ensuring they’re ready for county fair. At least that’s what their mothers and fathers are telling them they should be doing. We all know some kids carry out these tasks with less prodding than others. Some did it last week while others will frantically manage to pull it together the morning of the big show.
Dads are helping pack trailers, encouraging reluctant steers and helping get ready for the big week. Moms, if they’re like me, are making the rounds with black magic markers writing the family name on every item that might make its way to the fairgrounds. Getting at least half your stuff back home is an important step in being able to participate again next year. My frequent searches for bridles, reins, halters and you name it have me sympathizing with my own parents and my own previous ability to scatter things far and wide!
In about a week we’ll load the camper and the critters and head to town for the bulk of a week. Joshua has one more year before he’s eligible to show, but Bryce plans to take both horses and the catch-a-calf heifer he won at last year’s fair. He’s shown horses for several years now, but this will be his first year at the cattle show and a learning experience for all of us. He’ll return to the event next year, assuming all goes as planned, to show both his heifer and her first calf. I know he’s looking forward to calving season 2013. So are we. If you’re up checking one heifer, you might as well check the rest, right?
As kids across Wyoming head to the county fair, I hope it holds the lessons for them that it’s intended to teach. For many of us it’s where we learned to win and where we first learned to lose with grace. It’s where we realized there were rewards for hard work and a bit of discomfort when we headed to town knowing we could have done more.
While cattle, horses, crafts, baking or otherwise may be the subject of the day, the lessons have a lifelong impact. As a parent it’s often difficult for me to think beyond the day at hand and remember the larger goal of raising a responsible, hardworking citizen. What’s more difficult is standing back and watching your child as they wrestle with life’s lessons that can only be learned through experience. Whether they’re headed for the show ring or not, animals can teach young people an amazing number of lessons!
I love to see kids win purple ribbons, especially when I can watch and see just how bad the kid wanted it and how hard they worked earning it. That’s more than a purple ribbon….it’s a lesson that will probably stick with them for life whether return to rural Wyoming or work in downtown New York City.
For the time being, I’m heading out with my black magic marker to label things!
Jennifer Vineyard Womack is executive director of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and a freelance writer. She can be reached at Womack@Wyoming.com or at 307-351-0730.