The county fair is seemingly the best week of the entire year! Growing up in a family that dove head first into the fair scene back in the late 80s and then I didn't come along until 1990, I didn't have a choice in the matter. By the time I came around to the county fair at the ripe age of 6mos old, my parents had been handed over the leadership of our 4H club as well as the market livestock coordinator position. They had to handle all of the behind the scenes things... judges, paperwork for every animal, trucking and so on. By the way, they are still doing these jobs! No one realizes the work that goes on months before and after each fair week, except for me. Now that I am finishing up my 7th year as a 4H leader, I have slowly started to take things over from my mom so that she doesn't have as much on her plate anymore. I have basically just grown up helping anyway.
Back to my point...
I have 3 older brothers and they were all involved in showing steers, hogs, and lambs so I was able to experience everything from a young age... I had no fear of any of the large livestock. Just ask my mom how I disappeared on her one day while we were outside. I was 2 years old and ended up in my brother's steer pen in the barn. The steer was a 1200lb big dumb Simmental/Limousin cross that we had born on our farm. I was in there brushing him like I had seen Ben do all the time. But little did my mom know at the time, I had also been in the pen next to Junior... with our horned Dexter bull. Like I said, no fear.
Showing livestock starting at age 4 with dairy goats was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Did my brothers make fun of me because I loved my goats? Yes. Did they still "help" me even though forced? Yes. The youngest of my 3 older brother built me a milk stand for my goats back in... 1996?
We still use that beast every day because yes, I still have a herd of registered Toggenburg and Oberhasli goats. When I was old enough did they take the time to teach me how to fit and groom cattle? You bet. I also sat and watched as they did the fitting on their own steers both at home and on show day. They also taught me showmanship skills and how to pick out livestock, even though they didn't know that they were. My brothers taught me valuable skills that I pass on to 4H kids all the time even though times/trends have changed the majority has stayed the same. I had/have some of the very best mentors when I was growing up. I wanted to win that trophy or that blue ribbon just like my big brothers did. They didn't know what they were doing at the time but it was priceless to me.
Since my parents were busy running the shows, it was always my responsibility to get my own animals ready for show at the fair. So the skills needed for fitting were a blessing. Most other kids had someone around to help them even if it was just to stand by and watch to make sure nothing bad happened when moving steers from stall, to wash rack, and then the fitting chute. I always thought it was really cool when one of my brothers would come out to help me get my steer ready or just to make sure I had everything under control. Like I said, those moments were priceless to me.
Be sure to thank your mentors, leaders, parents and friends that take the time to help you throughout your 4H years. Chances are they will brush it off like its nothing. I know I do that all the time, but on the inside its the best warm fuzzy feeling to know that you are helping shape someone's 4H life/career.
Take the time show the gratitude to everyone around you. You just never know...
~Till Next Time