You Know You’re a Fair Kid When….
1. You have the habit of writing your name on EVERYTHING. Everyone has the same shovel and shares everything to make sure the barn stays clean. If your name isn’t on it, it might accidentally end up in someone else’s tack. Sharpies are your best friend. You lose one staple gun, and trust me, you will never hear the end of it.
2. You know what tack is. While most think of a sharp pin object, to you it is all your prized possessions. Your tools of the trade to make sure your livestock are happy, healthy and clean.
3. You have learned not judge the outfits worn to do morning herdsman-ship. It’s early, you haven’t had breakfast yet and you have exactly 30 minutes until the judges come around. Sweatpants and cowboy boots go together, right?
4. You learned all about politics early on. It’s a part of life. It’s all about who you know AND what you know.
5. You’ve had a fair fling. Nothing screams real romance like helping each other sweep the barn walkway.
6. Poop doesn’t bother you. You are either scooping it, washing it off, or monitoring it. It’s all about inputs and outputs. You have become immune to the smell of it. In a normal setting, people standing around chatting with manure all over their jeans is considered unsanitary, but at the fair, it’s just a regular day (and most likely unloading day).
7. You realize eyes are on you at all times. Whether it’s the judge in the ring, your adviser/leader, your mom, or the younger kids, someone is always watching you. You learned the valuable lesson of always behaving like you are being watched, even when you don’t think you are. You know to always do the right thing.
8. You know how to stay composed. Even in the face of defeat you know how to keep a smile, and offer a congratulatory handshake to the winner. When the animal that you have spent all year training into a tame pet, goes rodeo-style on you at the fair, you grit your teeth and treat it just the same as you would if it behaved. And every showman knows, once you are in the ring your animal can sense your feelings. Staying calm and collected is the best way to keep your animal docile.
9. If your name is on the stall card, it’s your responsibility. If it poops, you scoop it up. If it’s hungry, you feed it, if it’s thirsty, you water it.
10. You always put your animal before yourself. This goes for needs and beauty. You don’t eat unless your livestock has been fed. You don’t put your show clothes on until you have spent hours beautifying every detail of your animal, right down to the hooves.
11. You have a fair friend. You go all year without seeing this person but as soon as you are reunite, it’s like you were never apart.
12. You have lived on a fair food diet. You consider snow-cones a food group and elephant ears a delicacy.
13. You’re stronger than most kids at your school. Carrying water buckets, feed sacks and pitching straw takes a lot of work. In the words of Luke Bryan “You can’t get these muscles anywhere but a farm.”
14. You know you can lead a steer to water but you can’t make it drink. No matter how desperate you are to keep your animal hydrated in the summer heat, if it doesn’t want to drink, it won’t. But all of us will stand waiting at the water trough anyway because we know how important it is.
15. You have learned to NEVER let go of the halter. Or at least you try and hold onto the halter as long as you absolutely can. If your animal gets spooked and takes off, you are at the end of that roped holding on for dear life.
16. You care about the number on the scale. But it’s not your own. Livestock weigh-in is the moment of truth. You cross your fingers hoping the scale is accurate, and pray your animal makes weight. We all know every pound counts. It determines your weight class and the number on the check at the end of the week.
17. You take the question “Were you raised in a barn?” as a compliment. It’s where you learned the meaning of hard work, discipline, responsibility, determination and leadership.
18. Your show clothes are your best clothes. They are the only clothing you use a hanger for and are perfectly ironed. But inevitably they will get some sort of livestock slobber, snot or manure on them. (Thanks mom for always understanding).
19. You have a collection of ribbons. You have enough to cover a wall but you know the only ones that really matter to you are the purple ribbons. Grand Champion… rolls off the tongue real nice doesn’t it?
20. Crying at the auction is allowed twice. The first time you sell your animal, you have to say goodbye to your buddy. You were really young so your parents most likely found you the tamest pet they could. The first time looking into your projects eyes while the auctioneer rattles of the bidding numbers is a heart breaker. After that first time, you become hardened to the realities of what happens after the sale. The second time tears are allowed is at your last show. You have entered the ring for the last time and can’t help but get a little choked up at the thought of your career as a showman coming to an end. You learned amazing life lessons and the journey from a novice to that moment is a lot to take in.
Huge thank you to all of those who help keep local fairs alive and going! An amazing tradition that holds insurmountable life lessons and opportunities. The values and memories made at a local fair are truly treasured.