10 Lessons Learned At The County Fair
As I mentioned here, our local county fair kicks off this week. Even though it’s been a few (cough… cough) years since I last threw on the 4-H green t-shirt to show off the fruits of my labor, there is something special about the county fair that brings such wonderful memories flooding back into my mind. From winning my first blue ribbon at 13 months old in the baby contest for “Most Feminine” (hah!) to achieving all of the goals I had set for my Senior year, I have compiled 10 Lessons Learned At The County Fair that I continue to apply to my life so many years later.
1) How To Perform Under Pressure
Any 4-H kid would be lying if they said they never completed a county fair project in the 11th hour.
The night before judging day is hectic with slapping on the last coats of paint, printing pictures, putting the finishing touches on the project write ups, and baking batches and batches of homemade goodies, looking for six uniform cookies or that perfect presentable loaf of bread.
2) Be Gracious
At the county fair, it’s very unlikely you will be able to win every purple ribbon or place 1st in every class you enter.
Congratulate the winners, shake the judge’s hand, and thank the volunteers.
3) Be A Caretaker
It’s rule number one for anyone involved in agriculture. Be a caretaker.
Want to eat breakfast at the food stand that has really great biscuits and gravy?
First you have to wash your heifer.
Want to go watch the Ag Olympics?
First sweep the barn alleyways.
Want to go to the grandstand event with all of your friends?
You better have done the night chores and made sure the animals are fed.
4) Stay Cool
It never fails. Fair week is H. O. T. ~ Hot!
And the show ring attire of cotton t-shirts, blue jeans, and boots are not exactly user friendly over 80 degrees.
“Hangry” is a term for someone who is angry because they are hungry, but has anyone found a term for Hot Angry?
Every fair kid gets there at some point during the week, so you have to find ways to keep cool.
A well chosen spot in the shade or in front of the cattle barn fans.
An extra wash for the livestock because they just “keep getting dirty.”
Or my favorite. Water fights.
Fair water fights are the stuff of legends!
5) Friends Will Become Family
The friends you make through 4-H, FFA, and the county fair have been proven to last a lifetime.
You have bonded over bad dance moves, practical jokes, and that crazy heifer you have this year.
Even though I met my best friend, Bree, through church activities, our relationship blossomed during our 4-H and fair years.
She has always been my partner in crime, shoulder to cry on, and the closest thing to a sister I will ever have.
Love ya chica!
6) Be Silly
I have lived for a long time with the mantra to never take life too seriously.
A day without laughter is a day wasted in my book.
And life at a county fair offers plenty of opportunities to be silly.
Especially at the annual ag olympics.
7) Push Yourself
If 4-H taught me one thing above all else, it was to set goals.
And to push yourself in those goals.
Putting in extra hours in the barn working with your livestock in order to win overall showmanship.
Or practicing (and practicing some more) to make the perfect lattice crust for your cherry pie.
No matter what your goal is, push yourself. It will make the reward all the sweeter.
8) Don’t Be Afraid To Fail
Playing on the above point. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is bound to end in plenty of failures.
But that is what makes your successes (and you will have successes) mean that much more.
9) There Is No Fair Without Family
For me, there would have been no fair without family.
Their love, support, and helping hands are the only thing that kept me going.
Dad helping to clean pens and feed livestock. And always there for a good laugh when needed.
Mom and her guiding hand over projects and the to-do list. Who would, one minute on her way to bed (see point #1) say she is done and don’t ask for any help, to the next morning washing every pot and pan I had emptied from the cabinets the night before trying to perfect my bread recipe.
To aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who would come from near and far to watch me show and/or lend a helping hand.
I know I never said “Thank You” enough.
So Thank You!
10) It’s About More Than The Ribbons
Ribbons fade and trophies find their spots in storage boxes.
But the memories made at the fair with friends and family is something that lasts a lifetime.
I don’t remember what color of ribbon I won for certain projects throughout the years, but I do remember the pillows Grandma helped me to sew. The late nights baking pies with Bree. And the water fights with Dad as we worked at washing pigs.
Those moments are my most cherished awards from my days at the county fair and best of all; memories don’t need to be dusted around.
Happy fair week y’all!