Monday was the kickoff of the Custer County Fair in Mackay Idaho. There is nothing like a small town fair, it becomes the center
of the activities in town. When our kids were younger we participated in the fair in a small town in Idaho where we lived. The kids participated in the 4-H and FFA program. I like these programs and the values of hard ethics they teach the kids. These programs can create a sense of achievement when a project is finished. It is good for the kids to complete them on their own through hard work (of course with someone watching from the sidelines to help if needed.)
We have been involved in many 4-H projects like cooking, sewing, rocket making, ceramics. These projects were fun and taught the kids different lifelong skills. We have also been involved in projects where the kids raised animals. They learned how to care for, feed, groom and train the animals throughout the summer while preparing for the fair. They took beef calves, lambs, pigs, goats, horses and chickens to the fair. Each project requires a record book which teaches the child how to keep track of expenses and what the project requires to complete it. Although I have to say the record books were probably the hardest part for me as a parent and as a leader, they are an important part in teaching the kids.
One of our daughters enjoyed a calf she had tamed down enough to ride. She spent a lot of time halter breaking and caring for this animal and was really sad to sell it at the end of the summer. She learned a lot from this steer that was her FFA project.
Another daughter walked miles breaking her lamb to lead and exercising it. She enjoyed her sheep, (all except for washing the gunk out from under their arm pits), before fitting and showing.
One of our sons loved the pigs. He raised sows and then sold the piglets to others and kept one to take to the fair for himself. He walked the pigs and learned how to care, not only for his pig he took to the fair, but also how to care for a sow and her piglets.
The kids also took chickens to the fair. Have you ever given a chicken a bath and blown the feathers dry, painted the toenails with clear polish and oil to make the comb shine. All of these animals had to be bathed and groomed for the show.
The animals are judged on various aspects. Quality is very important for the animals they take to the fair. The kids were judged on the showmanship and the way they handle the animals. The animals have to be worked with in order to show well at the fair. A 1200 hundred, or more, pound steer can really push someone around if the time hasn’t been put into breaking it to lead.
There are many clubs you can get involved in, even if you can’t take the animals to the fair. These clubs teach children valuable lessons to help build confidence while completing the project.
The county fair can be enjoyed by all. You don’t necessarily have to take 4-H or be in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) program to enter the fair, there is the open class option also. This year I decided to put our garlic in the fair that we had just harvested and also a sample of our raspberries. I am pretty happy with the results.
While the fair is a lot of fun for those of us that enter projects, there is a lot of work that goes on in the background just to get the fair ready. There are buildings to prepare, food vendors and other vendors to line up, judges and volunteer helpers to find. The work starts in January as you set things in motion. It is a thankless job, but a great sense of accomplishment when you breathe the last sigh of relief, when the fair is over, and every thing worked.
As the summer winds down and you enjoy your local and state fairs, stop and acknowledge the amount of time and effort everyone has put into bringing the fair to life. And if you get the chance to join in and enter a project…. good luck and enjoy it.
I hope you have enjoyed my post. Feel free to comment below.