In Wyoming and across the region, it’s the start of county fair season. I like to think of this as a time of celebration for agriculture.
This celebration is taking place in the show barns, show rings and the 4-H and FFA livestock auctions. It is serious business and the level of anxiety is a result of many months of hard work preparing for the county fairs. While not all of the competition consists of livestock, the livestock shows attract the most attention.
It is important to remember this is a business for youth involved in these livestock shows. They need to acquire new animals for the next summer’s county fairs, buy feed and supplies and save some for college. In truth, it is a business that prepares these young people for the sometimes harsh world of being a grownup. They learn work ethic as a way to succeed at their goals.
County fairs are also a social time for all. The youth, while busy with animals, do have some down time to enjoy friends and meet new ones. The parents have been planning and making sure everything is perfect to have time to visit. Grandparents have the most fun of all – they come to watch, visit with others and to brag on their perfect grandkids. It is a family ritual that happens every summer.
County fairs are an introduction to life – they show hard work and a good attitude usually pay off. While in a show ring, youth exhibitors and their animal have to work as one. The youth also realize that no matter how much training and time spent, an animal is still an animal and one has to be prepared for the unexpected. That is life as grownups know it.
The youth also realize the judge in the show ring has a job to do and as everyone and their animals walks into the show ring, they all have an equal chance to do well, but the judge is human and they have their likes and dislikes. They are not robots, but at that moment, they are running the show and deserve respect. While most youth don’t realize it, most judges have been in their shoes during their youth.
Showing livestock at county fairs is an opportunity for youth, and some day they will look back at the experience and realize what it taught them about life and business, and they will figure out the fun and games were not the most important part.
In my youth, I was a member of FFA, but never showed any livestock, so I’m not a creditable source on this subject. But I do realize, and have for a long time, what I missed. Before I became associated with the Roundup, I didn’t have a clue of the importance of showing livestock or the opportunities involved.
I encourage everyone to read the Code of the West – this is what showing livestock teaches youth.
We at the Wyoming Livestock Roundup wish all youth showing livestock success at the county and state fairs.