2016 County Fair is in the Books

We have gone through another year of county fair.

Want the numbers? This year our group had a total of 14 animals with at least 7 different competitions between 10 members.

Including our time spent setting up, we were there for seven days, and since a thoughtful child of mine kept track of the number of hours we were there, I can tell you it was just over 70 hours of time spent at the fair.

So we do settle down, and bring in a coffee maker (an absolute necessity), food, chairs, blankets, and whatever else we need. I told at least once person that this is like camping, but only in a barn with 1000+ other animals. And I am not kidding about that animal number. There were 867 spots in our auction, plus other breeding animals there too.

But we do have a blast, and I thought I would share how the week went.

Day 1: Tuesday we set up our pens at fair and then headed over to the animal farm to get them all into the trailer.

All was going well until we noticed this:

Thankfully the farm we are at had a small pump, so while we waited, we were entertained by the trailer occupants.

 We got all of our tack unloaded and the animals snug for the night.

Day 2: Wednesday was our day to set up decorations. We have these big fence lines that we brace on 2x4's and have all of our stall cards on with our decorations.

When we are putting these massive things up I am cursing their size, but then the rest of the fair, when I can see our display from across our massive barn, I love them.

Then I go through the whole cursing thing again when we take them down.

This year, for the first time, our fair put both of my goat and lamb projects together, in the same space.

This day we also had weigh in for both lambs and goats. We did have one goat that did not make weight, but we knew it would not ahead of time and so it was not a surprise.

End of day 2 - the decorations are up and we are ready for the fair to begin!

Day 3: Thursday is Goat Competition Day. We are there at 6:30am, cleaning out pens, feeding, washing goats, and getting ready.

Nine of my members competed in two different competitions  - market and showmanship, and in all different classes.

Everyone did such a great job!

In market, out of the top 8 spots in champion drive, three of them were from Clover.

We had some time in between classes, and so My Sweetie started a game of Bluff with the kids.

The next competition is showmanship, where Nutsy won junior goat showmanship. She did a great job and really deserved to win. In seniors Dasher got 3rd and Bookworm got 2nd.

We didn't finish competing until almost 5pm.

That night our project had a pizza party. It's funny how before fair I have all these good intentions of being sanitary, disinfecting everything, and setting up a spot outside the barn to eat at. But by the end of show day I find myself on a goat stand that's been used all day, sitting right next to the goat pen, munching on a piece of pizza.

Tonight was our families' turn to have barn duty, so we hung out until 8pm.

 Great job, girls!

Day 4: Friday is lamb day. If our fair ever had both lamb and goat competitions in the same day I think I would really go insane.

We were there even earlier this morning since our show started at 8am. Bookworm's lamb was a true winner and won champion 4-H Suffolk.

 Dasher was up next in her market class of crossbreds.

She also competed in showmanship but the last couple of days had been sick so she did not show as well as she could have and did not place.

Bookworm had been having a hard time with her lamb - sometimes it is hard to switch between goat and sheep showmanship - so she spent some time working with it and getting some advice.

And the results of senior sheep showmanship: Bookworm got 3rd and was very happy with that result.

These two are best friends. I love watching them and their relationship blossom.

Day 5: Saturday was the first day where we did not have an early morning. Well, not that early.....we still had to feed the lambs at around 9am. Today was a hanging out kind of day.

But not for Nutsy. By winning junior showmanship, she qualified to compete in masters. So she spent the day working with other species.

At one point I went all over looking for her, and found her in the dairy ring, talking with some FFA kids about showing dairy.

I was super impressed with the older kids at our fair. There were quite a few that helped her out, and spent a lot of time coaching her.

Day 6: Sunday is the Junior Livestock Auction. This is a real auction, so we are there early - 7am, to wash the animals and get into whites.

The girls had sent out buyer letters a couple of months ago to prospective buyers. They then spend a few hours before the auction, finding the people who they have sent letters to, and bringing them over to see their animals.

This is now the fourth year we have done this. Each year they meet new business owners, see ones that they have met before, and have adult conversations. Each year they hear more of, "Oh, good to see you again! What have you been up to this year and where is your animal?"

This, people is another of the many reasons why I do 4-H. What an amazing opportunity, and one that give you confidence, maturity, and poise.

All of my kids made it into the ring and got at least market value for their animals.

This year my girls were privileged to be invited to help with the Sale of Champions. A girl in our lamb project had an amazing lamb and won overall supreme champion, and so they asked Nutsy and Dasher to hold the ribbons and for Bookworm to set the legs in the ring.

At the end of this long day our project has a potluck, and my group surprised me with a signed photograph and a lovely card.

Day 7: Monday is the final day. Or the I-can't-believe-we-are-still-here day. Our market animals go to market (literally) early in the morning, so we are there at 6:30am again, to clean and wash everything out.

The half hour car ride each morning gets quieter each day; I think this morning I had some kids still sleeping.

But the exciting thing happening today is Master Showmanship.

Nutsy even went and found some horse people to work with her yesterday after the auction, and has really put effort into learning more about the other species.

She really is the smallest one out there.

 Dairy cow was first. She had a young one that was pretty feisty.

Dairy goat was next.

Here she is talking with the other competitors. This was a great bunch of kids, and as they went from species to species, they each shared information with the group.


Goat and lamb.


Horse, which she told me, that behind goat and lamb, was her favorite.

We sat for a bit and waited for the results. The microphone was not working, so when they started calling a name, I thought they were starting with last place. Her name was called next, so I assumed she was in 5th place, and when our group screamed for her, I yelled too, because you do that as a parent, no matter what the placing.

Until I saw that she was carrying a little box back with her to her spot. And I noticed her ribbon was blue. And then they stopped calling names.

Nutsy had won Junior Large Animal Showmanship!

I was so surprised that I didn't get any photos until later.

But we did get this, in front of the banner, with the senior 4-H winner and the FFA winner.

And then this, with her shiny new buckle.

Finally, that afternoon, we clean out everything we had brought in, and take it all home. 

Each year, I am so thankful for the things we learn and the experiences we have. It is so much hard work - even after we finished the next day we went and cleaned out pens at the farm, and then washed and disinfected all buckets and equipment.

But hard work is good.

And hard work pays off.


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